Thursday 31 December 2015

That Was The Year That Was!

Like every year, 2015 seems to have zipped past at a rate of knots.... in fact so fast it'll be February before we realise it's gone and start writing 2016 on cheques.

On the other hand, when I look back and see what happened during the year it's obviously been the full 365 days with probably a few more thrown in for good measure.

A few highlights and one or two lowlights:-

- I and four fellow authors formed Authors Reach, a cooperative designed to maximise the combination of our mutual skills in book marketing, publicity and merchandising. The first two books under the Authors Reach publishing banner (my Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords) came out as eBooks this month and will come out in paperback form in January.

- A good friend of mine was given the all-clear from cancer having gone through grueling surgery and chemotherapy.

- Many didn't and my cousin's wife passed away earlier this year, as did the wife of an author friend.

- My son took up golf in May and without fail we play every Wednesday afternoon, rain or shine. I'm getting better and he's a natural!

- My beloved cocker spaniel, Benji, died in March, but 10 days later the incredible void was filled by a beautiful cocker spaniel puppy called Oscar. Not a replacement, but a superb personality in his own right.

- In October Oscar and I went on a lads walking holiday to the Gower Peninsular. I took Benji there every year (just him and me) and Oscar loved it every bit as much as I. We walked 10 miles a day or more, and hopefully we'll go back in March.

- As a result of Christmas I have a number of great books to read.... the last ever Terry Pratchett, a new "Uhtred" from Bernard Cornwell, the post-James 1st history of Great Britain by Peter Ackroyd, and two fantastic signed books on the golf majors from my son-in-law.

- I tried baked Camembert cheese, with toast and tomato and apple chuckney for the first time. Simply delicious!

- Just before Christmas I had tea with my wife and daughter on the 38th floor of The Shard. A fire broke out on the 35th floor just before we arrived (echos of the film Towering Inferno) and the place was surrounded by fire engines and lots of official people who had no idea what was going on! However the view when we got to the tea floor was stunning, though the sandwiches and cakes left a lot to be desired, although the reason for being there was the view. As the sun went down and the lights of London came on we were glad our table was right by the floor to ceiling windows. It was worth the exorbitant price for that alone!

2016 holds much promise and many opportunities, though as always it'll be down to everyone to decide how to use them.
So have a great new Year's Eve celebration and the New Year of your choice.

Blog on, Dudes!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Shani Struthers new book.... Eve:A Christmas Ghost Story.

I first met Shani Struthers at a joint book signing we did in Leatherhead last year. Half way through there was a lull in the queue and Shani took the opportunity to do an interview with Radio Norfolk. For someone so sweet and charming she writes seriously chilling thrillers that beg for you to hide behind a sofa.

Her new book, Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story launching on the 24th November on Amazon is the prequel to the popular Psychic Surveys series. Featuring two of the Psychic Surveys team – Theo Lawson and Vanessa Patterson – it’s set between 1899 and 1999 and is loosely inspired by a true event, as most of Shani's books are.

In her fictional re-telling, Theo and Ness are asked to investigate a town weighed down by the sorrow of what happened 100 years befor.....

A taster.
What do you do when a whole town is haunted?

In 1899, in the North Yorkshire market town of Thorpe Morton, a tragedy occurred; 59 people died at the market hall whilst celebrating Christmas Eve, many of them children. One hundred years on and the spirits of the deceased are restless still, ‘haunting’ the community, refusing to let them forget.

In 1999, psychic investigators Theo Lawson and Ness Patterson are called in to help, sensing immediately on arrival how weighed down the town is. Quickly they discover there’s no safe haven. The past taints everything.

Hurtling towards the anniversary as well as a new millennium, their aim is to move the spirits on, to cleanse the atmosphere so everyone – the living and the dead – can start again. But the spirits prove resistant and soon Theo and Ness are caught up in battle, fighting against something that knows their deepest fears and can twist them in the most dangerous of ways.

They’ll need all their courage to succeed and the help of a little girl too – a spirit who didn’t die at the hall, who shouldn’t even be there…

As Theo turned round to face the double doors, she had a feeling that someone - something - was rushing at her, as fleetingly as whatever had been in Adelaide's house. Refusing to let fear get a stranglehold, she turned back, her aim to confront it. A black wisp of a shape, like wood smoke, sideswiped her, before fading into nothing. Staring after it, wondering what it was, something else caught her attention. At the far end of the second room was something more substantial: a little girl, staring at her.

Theo's eyes widened. "Oh darling, darling," she whispered. She took a step forwards, tried to remember the names of the children on the list from earlier: Alice, Helen, Bessie, Adelaide's ancestor, Ellen Corsby perhaps. Which one was she?

She inched closer still. "Darling, your name, tell me what it is."

The little girl's arms moved upwards, she stretched them out, her manner beseeching although she remained mute. Theo tried again, told the child her own name.

"It's short for Theodora. I bet you're called something pretty."

The girl had a dress on; long, brownish, a course material - linen perhaps? Nothing special but if it was her party dress then maybe it was special to her. Her boots were brown too - lace ups, sturdy looking. She was around eight or nine but it was hard to tell. She could have been older just small for her age. Her hair was brown and tangled; she had a mane of it. Everything about her seemed to be brown or sepia, maybe sepia was the right word, as though she'd stepped out of an old photograph.

"I'm here now, sweetheart, I've come to help. You've been here for such a long time. Too long. You need to go to the light, go home, rest awhile."

Up closer, Theo could read her eyes. The longing in them stirred her pity.

"Let me help you," Theo persisted, her voice catching in her throat. As glorious as the other side might be, she still felt it unfair to be felled at such a young age. Often this was a good existence too and it deserved to be experienced fully.

She was close now, so close and still her arms were outstretched.

Harriet - the name presented itself whole in her mind.

"Your name's Harriet. Is that correct? It's lovely, it suits you."

Was that a smile on the child's lips, the beginnings of trust? Soon she'd be able to reach out and touch her. What would she feel like? Cold? Ethereal?

"Darling, I'm here," she repeated, no more than a foot between them. "I'm here."

Joy surged - one spirit had come forward - it was an encouraging start.

Just before their hands touched everything changed. Hope and joy were replaced with confusion as something sour - fetid almost - rose up, making her feel nauseous.

"Don't be afraid," Theo implored. Yet there was nothing but fear in her eyes now. No, not fear, that was too tame a word - terror.

"I'm not here to harm you," she continued. "I'm here to help."

As the words left her mouth, other hands appeared behind the child, a whole sea of them - disembodied hands that clawed at her, forcing her backwards.

"No!" Theo shouted. "Stop it. Leave her alone!"

But it was no use. Her words faded as the girl did. She'd been torn away, recaptured; the one who'd dared to step forward. Theo could feel sweat break out on her forehead, her hands were clammy. She clutched at her chest, her breathing difficult suddenly, laboured. Her heart had been problematic of late, a result of the pounds she'd piled on. She must go to the doctor to get some medication. Struggling to gain control, it took a few moments, perhaps a full minute, before her heart stopped hammering. And when it did, she remembered something else. The girl's eyes - her sweet, brown, trusting eyes - when the expression changed in them they hadn't been looking at her, they'd been looking beyond her. Was it at the thing that sideswiped her? Theo couldn't be certain. She wasn't certain either if that 'thing' was a spirit or much less than that - something with no soul, but with an appetite, an extreme appetite: a craving. Something, she feared, was insatiable.


Author Bio
Brighton-based author of paranormal fiction, including UK Amazon Bestseller, Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall. Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me, is also available and due out in November 2015 is Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story - the prequel to the Psychic Surveys series. She is also the author of Jessamine, an atmospheric psychological romance set in the Highlands of Scotland and described as a 'Wuthering Heights for the 21st century.'

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is in progress.

All events in her books are inspired by true life and events.

Catch up with Shani via her website or on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Facebook Author Page:

Blog on, Dudes!

Saturday 14 November 2015


The past two weeks have shot by!

With three book signing sessions (one at sea!) and two library talks completed I was able to work with four fellow authors in establishing our mutual dream........ a co-operative marketing organisation that could capitalise on our various skills and experiences in promoting our books in every way possible.


We chose the name Authors Reach for our organisation, because we'll be reaching out to Readers, Book Sellers (especially independent book shops), the media and to fellow authors, so the name was one that appealed to all of us. 
Authors Reach Ltd is now a registered company, our Facebook page is up and running with an incredible number of "likes" for such a young organisation, and our Authors Reach website has now also gone live soon as, with links to all our books on Amazon, partner companies and organisations, as well as to our individual websites.

So who are we?
Asides from myself, as a writer of Young Adult fantasy adventure books, there's Sarah England who writes the scariest horror thrillers imaginable, as well as the funniest romantic comedies, Gina Dickerson who writes wonderful romantic thrillers and poetry, Catriona King, the author of 13 books in the DCI Craig thriller series set in Belfast, and Shani Struthers, who writes deceptively wonderful ghost books and paranormal stories. Together we make up Authors Reach.

Taking our books to the reader and therefore also to the widest possible market means that not only will all our books be available on Amazon, both as eBooks and paperbacks, but we are negotiating that from the beginning of 2016 the UK's largest distributor will stock our books, making them available to all UK book shops. As a group, Authors Reach will be proactively working with book shops in holding events, releases and signing days. Our ultimate goal will be that should a reader go into their local book shop and ask for any book written by an Authors Reach author, that book will either be on the shelf, or available guaranteed the next day from the distributor.

Please visit our website at

An exciting week!

Blog on, Dudes!

Saturday 31 October 2015

A Week of Events

I knew this week was going to be busy, but a frenetic week that's full of great events is one to treasure.

On Sunday I walked Oscar, my cocker spaniel pup in the local forest for a couple of hours and thought back to the previous Sunday when a man walking his dogs had recognised me from the photo on my Amazon author's page. An author's biggest thrill, especially as the man had read both books in the Temporal Detective Agency.

The Scary Dip Halloween draw run by Gina Dickerson, Catriona King, Sarah England, Shani Struthers and myself came to its halfway point on Sunday and the day's prize was the miniature of my Leap of Faith created by the multi-talented Gina D. A week later and 6 prizes down the line, today's prize is a signed copy of my Trouble With Swords. You can still enter at midnight.

On Monday I signed books on the Red Funnel Isle of Wight Ferry Osprey. Great fun and part of the SO:To Speak (Southampton Festival of Words). This is ther first time Red Funnel has taken part and giving me a free ticket as well as free reign in the South lounge to chat to their passengers was a great risk for them. I think it paid off. It was wonderful when the captain announced that on board there was "the famous author Richard Hardie who will be pleased to sign books... or probably anything you stick in front of him, knowing authors!". No he didn't! A serious thank you to Red Funnel and the captain!

On the way back home I managed to call into the Southampton IMAX cinema and get premier seats for the new James Bond film, Spectre. My wife and I are really looking forward to seeing that.

Wednesday was golf day with my son in the afternoon and preparation for a library talk in the morning.

On Thursday I gave a talk in the morning at my local (and very large) library to 10 to 12 year olds on how to write a book, and in the afternoon on being an author to 12 to 14 year olds. The kids were wonderful and made the talks very interactive and a pleasure to give. One of them, Ben, wrote up an excellent summary on his blog. That's a lad to watch. After each talk I signed books in the main library area for an hour and a half. A great day and my thanks to Radka, the chief librarian for organising everything!

I popped into Southampton Central library this morning and I suppose like all authors I looked for my books. Leap of Faith was on the "Teen" shelf, but there was no sign of Trouble With Swords. Apparantly, they have another copy of Leap of Faith which is out on loan as is Trouble With Swords. Music to my ears!

In between the above, updating posts to A Scary Dip and answering emails, I actually managed to do some writing!

Quite a week.

Blog on, Dudes! 

Friday 23 October 2015

A Rather Nice Day!

Today was one of those days when everything could have gone pear-shaped, or like well-oiled clockwork with some lovely surprises.

The clockwork proved to be in perfect condition!

This morning I took my beautiful walking companion, Oscar the 9 month old cocker spaniel, to Farley Mount for a long forest walkies. I was talking to another guy who had 2 lovely Lurchers when after 5 minutes he suddenly said "You're Richard Hardie, aren't you?". I admitted I was, though I wasn't sure how he knew, because I'm sure I'd never seen him before. I wasn't only relieved, bur exstatic when he expalined that he'd read both my Temporal Detective Agency books and had recognised me from my Amazon photo! Chuffed.... I floated home.

I and 4 author friends are working together to cooperatively market our books. For the past week we've been holding A Scary Dip, a Facebook 2 week event to give away a spooky prize every day. Today it was my turn and I've given a signed cpy of my book A Leap of Faith. There's still time to enter by the way. The draw is independently made by Rafflecopter and will happen at midnight tonight, so go to the following link and enter for a chance to win.

The 5 of us are well on the way to establishing a joint distribution agreement for our books that will mean moving to the next level and being accepted as mainstream authors.

What else.....
Oh yes, I cleared up a ton of acorns from my front garden and nearly filled 2 wheelie bins. Tomorrow I've got to do the back garden.

Have a great weekend and Blog on, Dudes!

A Scary Dip

Today it's my turn to give away a prize on our Scary Dip two week celebration of Halloween.

To enter the Scary Dip draw go to the following link. Good luck!

Of course, if you don't win you can always go to Amazon, or your local book shop and buy a copy!

So far Gina Dickerson, Shani Struthers, Sarah England and Catriona King have given away copies of their spooky books, or beautifully made miniatures and today I'll be be giving away a signed copy of Leap of Faith, the first in the Temporal Detective Agency series

Friday 25 September 2015

The Face that Booked a Thousand Launches!

I don't think I've ever blogged about the launch of a book in all the years I've been blogging.
I've interviewed lots of people, both famous and unknown, who all had one thing in common.... they were interesting. But I've never blogged purely about a book, except to mention one in passing.
Today's the exception, and I make no apologies for it.

Sarah England has written fiction comedy books and a series of short stories verging on the psychology of horror. Today, however, she is realising a long-standing ambition and today has published "Father of Lies", her first full length horror novel as an eBook on Amazon. The paperback version will also be out later today.

I bought a copy (so this is no freebie review for a mate!) and would put it on a par with Stephen King (but not as verbose) and James Herbert. 
So what's it about? Read on in Sarah's own words......

Product Details
Synopsis: 'Father of Lies' is a supernatural horror novel with content which some readers may find very disturbing, and possibly offensive.  

With no known identity or family, Ruby is the most aggressive and disturbed patient ever to be admitted to Drummersgate High Security Forensic Unit. Eventually, after almost two years with little sign of improvement, psychiatrist, Jack McGowan, decides to take a risk and hypnotises her - with devastating consequences. A horrific, dark force is unleashed on him and his team, as one by one, each attempts to unlock Ruby's shocking and sinister past.
Set in a remote northern, mining village, where secrets are kept and incomers hounded from their homes, soon enough all paths lead to the heart of darkness... and The Father of Lies.

This book is a culmination of many factors - firstly I originally trained as a nurse and then went to work as a medical rep, eventually specialising in mental health, so much of the medical angle comes from my own background. As part of my my job I worked closely with the psychiatrists treating schizophrenia and depressive illnesses, setting up workshops and conferences, analysing clinical papers and taking a keen interest in the subject area. After I retired from the pharmaceutical industry, I spent over a decade writing fiction - mostly short stories and serials for magazines, but also one novel and a collection of thrillers; and so, when I met a lady who suffered from what used to be called multiple personality disorder (now called Disassociative Identity Disorder), I felt it all came together and was compelled to write, 'Father of Lies'. Around 90% of cases of DID are attributable to child abuse, and thus, although there is nothing graphic in the novel, there has to be a start - a reason - for my main character, Ruby, to be the way she is. Sadly and shockingly, this still goes on today, and that's why I describe the root cause as the heart of darkness. I hope that, by looking at the consequences of such evil, a strong message will come across - that we cannot turn a blind eye to what happens to thousands of children around the world, with the resulting damage to both individuals and society. That was the point of writing this book, which also, of course, is designed to scare the reader witless! 

"Father of Lies" is available on Amazon NOW at.... and 

Sarah's website:  
               twitter  @sarahengland16

Friday 28 August 2015

A Spectacular week!

A week with a difference and one to celebrate.

In the World Athletics Championships Mo Farah managed to stay on his feet, in spite of several pushes and trips (definitely accidental!) from the Kenyans, and win the 10k gold and fight his way through to the 5k final.

Greg Rutherford soared through the air to a remarkable gold which means he's won the World, Olympic, European and Commonwealth championships in one period. A feat only achieved by 5 other athletes and even Mo hasn't done it yet! Surprisingly he's underfunded by UK Athletics and has had to build a training long jump pit in his back garden.

Usain Bolt confounded everyone, including Justin Gatlin, by winning gold in the 100 and 200 meters, which means he's now won 10 Wold Championship golds. To his credit he never once alluded to the fact he'd beaten Justin Gatlin and his ex-drug usage. He's a perfect gentleman. To Gatlin's credit after each race he had a broad smile on his face and gave Bolt a hug of congratulations. 
To Bolt's greater credit, when he was upended by an enthusiastic TV cameraman riding a Segway, he did a backflip and smiled broadly before coming over to help the cameraman. The next day the cameraman presented Bolt with a wrist tag that would warn him when the man and his Segway were in the vicinity! Broad smiles all round.

I played three rounds of golf this week. Two with my son, who only started playing a few weeks ago and already has a superb swing, and one with an old friend. Asides from the fact that the rain poured down all morning on all three days and then cleared just as we started playing we had a great time. The course was virtually empty and yet it was the best playing conditions I've seen for ages.

As a person of a certain age.... I'm retired and spend my time writing books. To supplement my meager income I do agency work as and when it's available. This has ranged from heading a sales operation for an illegal drug testing company, to being an exam invigilator for a 6 form college. Usually these roles and reasonably short in duration and can be one day, or  a maximum of a month. Next week I start a new and rather exciting assignment as part of the IT support team for Winchester University. It's initially for 3 months, but is likely to last much longer. The money isn't bad either!

My car passed its MOT. A great result.... but at the same time I had to get it serviced, insured and taxed. An expensive car week, but I love my car so do I care?

It was confirmed this week that in October I'm taking my 7 month old cocker spaniel to my beloved Gower Peninsular for a week of walkies on the beaches and on the coast paths that I walked for so many years with my previous sadly missed cocker. I can hardly wait!

Terry Pratchett's last book "The Shepherd's Crown" was released this week. Most of his Discworld characters appear in it, almost as though he was getting them to say goodbye. Reviews of the book say it's one of his finest, so that's one Christmas present solved!

Blog on, Dudes!

Friday 21 August 2015

Reasons to be cheerful. One, Two. Three!

It's easy to dwell on the bad news and negative parts of life. It's far harder to those elements that enrich us and make it well worthwhile getting up in the morning and smiling.

So I got to thinking it would be good to look at my past 365 days and highlight the..... er, highlights!

1. My lovely daughter married her ideal man and I became a very proud father-in-law.
2. I became a 6th form exam invigilator and witnessed 1st hand how hard kids work these days and the stress they're under to succeed.
3. After 27 year we had all the carpets replaced with Axminster wool. It's like walking on air. Interestingly under the original carpet we found some newspaper sheets dated 1966!
4. At the end of March we became the doting owners of a cocker spaniel puppy. He's beautiful, smart, loyal, loves his cage at night and we love him.
5. This year we've holidayed in Tunisia (months before the massacre) and in the Canary Islands.
6. In October I'm going to the beautiful Gower Peninsular in South Wales with my cocker spaniel pup for a week. We'll walk for 5 days along the coast paths, coves and beaches and come back fit and refreshed. It'll be his first trip to Gower, but there'll be many more.
7. I put 11 bags of soil improver and conditioner in my garden for the first time in 27 years. As a result  my flowers, bushes and shrubs look amazing and even the soil looks dark and vibrant.
8. For the first time in 3 years I put in a number of tomato plants and they're just ripening now. The taste is dynamite! The secret is to pick them while they're still greenish but getting softer, then place them on a windowsill next to a banana. The black stem part of a banana has amazing ripening capabilities.
9. In June my son decided he'd like to take up golf. He is now armed with a bag, a full set of clubs and good golf shoes. He and I now play nearly every Monday and Wednesday and have a wonderful time. Christmas presents should be a breeze with the number of balls we lose.
10. I replaced my leaking shed, and although it took 2 1/2 months for the right parts to arrive. my garden tools are now dry for the first time in many, many months.
11. Book Three of the Temporal Detective Agency series is going along nicely and the first two, Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords, are still selling well in shops. They are, of course, also available on Amazon, should you wish to treat yourselves! Have a look at

Here's to the next 365 days. Have a good year!

Blog on, Dudes.

Friday 14 August 2015

It's a Fair Cop, Guv!

And no, this has nothing to do with blonde policewomen.... at least I don't think it does, but I was banged to rights as they say, just the same.

I was proceeding in a leisurely manner, m'lud, when I entered a local village and noticed a van, in which a man operating a camera was looking in my general direction. I was just inside the 30 MPH area and when I looked at my speedo I was doing 35 MPH. Admittedly I was slowing as I entered the village, but that wasn't the point as I realised a week later when the dreaded letter dropped through my letterbox.

So I had 3 options. I could either accept a fine and 3 points, plus a hike in my insurance premium, or challenge the whole thing and go to court where the fine would be £200 plus 3 points if I failed, or go on the Driver Awareness Course at a cost of £90 and no points on my license. Guess what I opted for!

Actually it's not that automatic. You have to apply and there's a chance the police may refuse you, though they would rather you took the course in reality.

So, what was it like? Brilliant!

The 2 guys who ran the course treated the 20 people on it as responsible adults, rather than as naughty kids to be humiliated, and they understood what they were talking about. These are some of the elements that came out during the 4 hours we were there:-

- No one makes a profit out of the course. In Hampshire, once all hotel and lecturer costs are covered, any remaining money is donated to the Hampshire Flying Doctor helicopter service which is totally supported by charity rather than the NHS
- A car travelling at 32 MPH as opposed to 30 MPH will still be doing 10 MPH if both cars are braked together and the 30 MPH car has stopped. At 70 MPH that goes up to 50 MPH.
- At 20 MPH 85% 0f people will survive with minor injuries. At 30 MPH 
- In an exercise, Hampshire police spot checked drivers for eyesight problems. Just over 25% failed badly. Amazingly this wasn't the older generation, but rather people in their late 20's who didn't want to admit they needed glasses and look nerdy!.
- Almost 80% of road accidents happen at road junctions and an amazing number involve cycles and motor bikes.
- A fixed speed camera can only be located where there have been 3 deaths, or major accidents in recent years.
- Mobile speed cameras of any kind can only be used where there has been a death or serious injury in the previous 3 years.
- Amazingly the outside lane of a motorway is NOT just for BMW drivers with a heavy right foot and a mobile, nor is it for lorries, caravans, or any cars towing something. Nor is it for use when the inside lane is available.
- There are very strict and defined rules as to whether a specific speed limit should be imposed. There has to have been an major accident with the last 3 years and the area must have street lights a certain distance apart before a 30 MPH limit can be imposed retrospectively. Some Hampshire villages still have a 60 MPH speed limit (the limit on a single lanes 2-way country road) going through them, purely because there hasn't yet been a major accident.
- Most people have no idea what ABS really does, how to use it properly, or even what it stands for, although they have it on their cars. Do you know?
- According to the Highway Code the average driver reacts to an incident in 0.7 seconds. In fact in road tests it's around 2 seconds.... and a lot can happen in 2 seconds even at 30 MPH!
- The year with the highest road deaths in the Great Britain was 1939! Since then it has steadily declined with a marked drop in the past 10 years, even though the number of cars on the road has increased incredibly.
- Since the Driver Awareness Course option was brought in the number of major road accidents has fallen considerably, likewise deaths.

Not one person on the course grumbled about the cost. No one moaned at the fact we'd been prosecuted in the first place and "why aren't the police out there chasing real villains instead of persecuting us poor motorists" (if we didn't speed, they would be chasing villains is one answer). The fact we all lost at least half a day's wages didn't occur to us; it's the price you pay for awareness.

We all thanked the two guys for an excellent course and promised never to see them again!

Blog on, Dudes!

Wednesday 8 July 2015

The process of buying a book.... mine at least!

Just a reminder that Leap of Faith is available on Amazon as an eBook for the special price of 99p.

So you've written a book and by some fluke (otherwise known as hard work) it's been taken on by an agent and / or a publisher. It's about to hit the bookshop shelves, Amazon depots, libraries, electronic devices, schools and eventually charity shops...... where unless someone parts with hard-earned cash the book will sit earning nothing for everyone. 

So let's look at the act of buying.

People don't go to Amazon to browse for books, do you? You go there to buy a specific volume, whether Kindle, or paperback and buy it, because it's usually cheaper than anywhere else and you're prepared to put up with the inconvenience of a 3 to 5 day wait for the convenience of not having to go into town.

From my point of view as an author of Young Adult adventure books, the downside is that the only people who buy books on Amazon are those with Kindle devices, and those who also have debit, or credit cards. No matter how hard you stuff notes into the DVD tray Amazon will never accept the purchase! Certainly lots of YA's have Kindles, but very few have Amazon accounts, or credit cards, so they either have to depend on their parents to buy for them, or they go to their local bookshop..... and browse!

Amazon may have several million books on its database, but a shop displays an excellent selection of tempting books for most age groups and genre tastes, and also has staff that are usually keen to help and advise. 

Where else but in a bookshop can you meet an author, chat and get them to sign one of their books. As an author I love the thrill of meeting existing and new readers of my books and hopefully gaining a fan for years to come. The bookshop owner loves signing days because it attracts potential buyers into the shop who may just buy other books as well. It's a scenario where everybody wins!

So the buying process in short:-
 - If you know the exact book you want and have a credit card, or willing parent, Amazon is probably the cheap option.
 - If you want to add to your reading selection within a genre, go to your local independent bookshop and browse.
 - If I'm in the bookshop grab me and ask me to sign my books. I promise I won't protest!
 - Either way, when Royal Mail brings your Amazon parcel, or you get home from town clutching one of my books.... Read them and enjoy every word!

Blog on, Dudes!

Tuesday 7 July 2015

The process of marketing a book... mine at least!

Before you start reading, bear a thought for the poor, struggling author that wrote this.... me!
Leap of Faith is available this week only at 99p as an eBook from Amazon at


So, once you've finished your book and it's with the publisher, that's your job as the author over and done with. So on to the next book!

Not a bit of it!

You may have written the world's greatest masterpiece, but if people don't know about it, unfortunately sales will reflect that. Someone has to go out to the big wide world of potential readers / buyers and tell them time and time again that your new bestseller is available and ready for them to enjoy on their book shelves or Kindle device.

Who do you shout at and what do you shout?
 - Social metworking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Many authors have multiple FB pages (personal, author and sometimes one for each book). I have three FB pages one of wich is hosted by one of the characters from my Temporal Detective Agency series. I also use Linkedin, which is primarily a business network, however like most authors, I used to be in business and still maintain my links. It also has useful groups I've joined.
 - Target your audience. My readers are primarily Young Adults, so advertising in The Oldie magazine is probably not the best use of my marketing time! Equally, think like your audience. 
- Don't shout "buy my books" at the same people day in, day out. That's a great way NOT to sell books. By variable, be interesting.
 - A blog is an excellent tool. Again, be interesting. Interviews are good, but don't keep interviewing the same people everyone else is interviewing, i.e. friends who are also authors. I started approaching well-known people (actors, broadcasters and authors) and found them very helpful and more than happy to spend time online with me. You need to create your audience though. Word of mouth / internet is a prime way and is really a recommendation to a new follower, but linking the blog to your website, if you have one, is key. Make sure also that each blog post is also linked to Facebook pages and Twitter..... and ask people to share!
- Your website is the window into your life by which the world can see who you are and what you're doing. It can be your key tool and should be aimed at you target age group and genre. Mine at is geared to the Young Adults among us and has lots of little surprises! Above all keep it relevant and up to date with lots of links to Amazon, your publisher and any other site your prospective reader might be interested in.
 - Goodreads and and the two largest book review sites. Of the two I prefer Authorsden, even though it's mainly American. It's author biography and book pages are professional and easy to create and the statistics it provides on the number of views and strike throughs to sites such as Amazon give you a great idea on traffic and potential sales. It also shows a top 10 list of books by views for each genre. I have to mention that, because my second book in the Temporal Detective Agency series (Trouble With Swords) is #3 in the Young Adults chart!
- Local press and radio and usually happy to help local authors. They're only a phone call away, but have something interesting to say, such as a new book release, or a local book signing.
- I love doing book signings in independent bookshops. They're fun and if promoted well and organised correctly can be great fun, as well as rewarding. Bookshops are also only a phone call away and are usually happy to talk.

- Don't ignore libraries, both local council and those in schools if your market is YA. I work with the Schools Library Service for each county to stock school libraries and organise school talks. J K Rawling's Harry Potter books really only took off through "playground marketing", in other words kids telling their friends about these great new books they've just read. 
- There are different distributors for independent bookshops, chain bookshops, ocean cruise liners, schools and county libraries. They're specialists in their repective markets and not to be ignored.

The main thing is to fun and to enjoy what you're doing. If you do, then it's highly likely your readers will enjoy your books that much more. And that is the name of the game!

Blog on, Dudes!

Friday 3 July 2015

The process of writing a book..... mine at least!

Writing a book is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiartion.... or roughly in that proportion. I forget who said it (probably Mark Twain!) but he was definitely a perspiring author!

In my case I sweated Leap of Faith, the first in the Temporal Detective Agency series, for around 8 years before it became properly published by Crooked Cat in both eBook and paperback format. However at some point in that period there came the magic 10% when I was (ahem) inspired!

For 15 years I was a Scout Leader and for 10 of those I wrote and produced the Scout and Guide Association Gang Shows. Ralph Reader started them some decades ago and they were tremendously popular in the 1960's with several million tuning into BBC to watch them once a year on Saturday night and an annual 2 week run at the London Palladium. Mt Gang Shows may have been on a slightly smaller scale, bu they were great fun and we had 80 kids on stage and the same number of people doing backstage, front of house, lighting and sound, security and car parking. A producer's lot is not an easy one! 

The second show was called Timescape and it always struck me that it had the kernel of a book hidden in it somewhere. I was lucky enough to have convinced Terry Pratchet to co-write one scene with me and even to act in it on video so we could show it every night. I broached the idea of turning the show (or part of it) into a book, and he rightly told me to keep the day job. However I did ask him if I could use his name and character in the book, or any sequel and he laughed before agreeing. He probably never expected a book to see the light of day, but to his surprise he apears in the second book in the series. He has a signed copy which nis agent read to him (he was blind towards the end of his life). It's the only book Terry Pratchett ever appeared in!

The first draft was nearly 500 pages long and my agent sent it back. She told me to put the letters GOWTS on my keyboard. They stand for Get On With The Story and it was the best advise I ever had. I cut Leap of Faith down to around 250 pages and I have to admit that the book now races along as an adventure, without losing anything in the reduced version! I used the same criteria in the rest of series and will continue to do so for as long as the Temporal Detective Agency is having fun.

So, back to the process:-
- Get an idea (inspiation)
- Look at it from all sides and examine it in detail. Scrap the idea if necessary!
- Storyboard it. Hopefully see the beginning, the middle and the end. I've even started a book by writing the last 3 chapters. They were good too!
- Write the first page and make it a humdinger!
- Complete the book, then look at each character and ask yourself if they really "live" in 3D. Do you believe in them, because if you don't, no one else can.
- Take out all adverbs and adjectives except those that are absolutely necessary. Be strict and remember that your reader has an imagination and will put in their own adverbs and adjectives.... probably better than yours!
- Don't get friends and family to read the book. They'll tell you it's magnificent.... or too awful for words. Either way, they'll be wrong!
- Get an agent if possible. The hardest part of the whole process, but often necessary as most publishers won't talk to authors, only agents who they presume have filtered out the dross and are presenting the cream. Sometimes the cream sinks to the bottom!

So you've got a book, it's published and you have a paperback copy actually in your hands. Er.... where's adoring queue of fan wanting you to sign copies? Now comes the really hard task.... marketing!

But that's another topic for later this week!

Remember for the next week Leap of Faith is available from Amazon as an eBook for 99p or $1.56. So go to...

Blog on, Dudes!

Friday 29 May 2015

Anger Is An Energy

It's not that I can't be bothered to blog, or that nothing interesting has happened this week. After all, Sep Blatter is facing an interesting future and (shock horror) FIFA may be a corrupt organisation, especially in Africa as well as South and Central America. Who'd have guessed it!

No. I've been building a shed that arrived flat-packed last Saturday, which included instructions that could have been from the Japanese offshoot of IKEA on a bad day. I had to phone the technical department so many times that we became quite good friends and are now on first name terms. Unfortunately the roof doesn't fit, so they're shipping new roof beams. which will arrive while I'm away on holiday along with replacement roof felt (which was ripped) and window batons (which split when screwed to the frame). Looks like a bust time when I get back, especially as we're having all the downstairs carpets replaced, so I have to move all the furniture and take all the old carpetd down to the refuse tip.

In addition, I've been reading a book.

I usually write them, or if I'm reading it'll be one of Terry Pratchett's, or Bernard Cornwell. However this is a book my daughter bought me for my birthday. It's John Lydon's biography called "Anger Is An Energy" and most people will know him as Johnny Rotten of the foul-mouthed and anarchistic Sex Pistols.

I was dubious, but he comes over as being an highly intelligent, well-read and extremely interesting man. He could read and write at the age of 4 and then caught meningitis, which wiped his memory for several months and he had to relearn his academic talents from scratch. His upbringing wasn't easy, or normal and yet he read Dostoyefsky and loved Rakmaninov. While other members of the Sex Pistols died, or faded into obscurity, John has carved a career in America, has a supportive family, is married to his long-term girlfriend, fronts his own group PIL, and has done for many years, has been on "I'm A Celebrity. Get Me Out Of Here", and has been offered a rejected MBE. A really fascinating guy and a book I'd recommend.

I'll be taking it on holiday to finish it and I'm also taking Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam. There are also a couple of eBooks I'm hoping to read on my iPad, though I must admit I don't like Kindle versions. I'd much rather read the words on aprinted page!

Blog on, Dudes!

Friday 22 May 2015

Kids Today!!!!

When I was young, we never behaved like kids do today!

Actually I think we did, or we'd have liked to, except the knowledge that parents, policemen and shop keepers would give us a clip around the ear stopped us going too far. The thought of being able to shout "I know my rights!" and threatening a court case for child abuse was unheard of. Kids didn't take away those barrier ropes; a well-meaning nanny state did, backed up by an autocratic EEC based in Brussels.

Another common complaint is that kids have it far too easy today. Exams have been dumbed down just so grades can look good. As a result there's no pressure on kids to achieve.


For the past 2 weeks, and until the end of June, I've been an exam invigilator at a very successful 6th form college in Winchester. I've been setting up, invigilating and then collating results for 2 exams a day in a variety of subjects. Around 1,500 kids are taking their final A'levels while about the same number are taking their Lower 6 1st year exams. The work put in by around 200 invigilators is tremendous, but the work the kids have put in over the past 2 years is phenomenal.

It's no wonder we've already had 3 panic attacks, all of which were dealt with calmly so that the students were able to continue their exams in a side room after a rest period.

Impressively, the college recognises very early in a student's 6th form career if they have colour blindness, dyslexia, or some other non-obvious problem. These students are given extra time if they want it, specially coloured exam and answer papers, readers and / scribes if necessary, and every opportunity for their intellect to shine. 

I looked throught the exam papers at each session I took and even those subjects I thought I was well versed in were certainly not easier than when I took A'levels. Kids may be given every technological aid but the competition is very high and the standard no lower than it used to be.

Successive governments have inadvertantly piled pressure onto the kids by making degrees so widely available and therefore almost obligatory. Now every kid is expected to get great grades and go to some university, or degree establishment as a matter of course. However many leave after the first year of a degree course, realising that they're incurring a debt, are doing a degree that will have little relevance to them in reality, or that they're just not cut out for university life. Wasted pressure, poor kids!

Having said that, I've yet to see any student treat an exam I've invigilated as a joke, and I hope the 3 who had panic attacks get the grades they obviously worked so hard for, It's a privelege working with them.

Blog on, Dudes!

Tuesday 5 May 2015


Image result for general election

Leaflets having been drooping through my letter box for a month or so now and that can only mean that after 5 years we're having another General Election to vote another load of politicians into power.

At least we don't have to put up with the American system of party political broadcasts for a whole year. Strangely though, in the States they only have the two parties anyway, whereas we now have a whole rainbow of choices.... some of whom make the Monster Raving Loony Party look sensible. In our case, it just seems like a year.

Politics was always a fairly gentlemanly process and general elections with your choice of Dimblebys was of interest only on the night when Billeracy declared the first result. What ever happened to them? It's now somewhere up North.... or at least above the M4. People didn't swear at each other. Certainly there were unsavoury secrets, but the media kept those quiet, because MP's were like bankers, lawyers and estate agents.... pillars of society! Then came expenses and the reputation ofg MP's joined that of .... er bankers, lawyers and estate agents!

I'm not a Labour, Lib Dem, Tory, Wesh Nationalist, SNP, UKIP or SNP supporter. I'm a blogger who watches, and the modern habit of pouring out vitriol against a party the vitioler doesn't support is amazing. I have to say that Labour supporters seem to do it most against the Tories and some even voice the opinion that if you don't agree with them you must be against them. I was even accused on Facebook of being a Nazi by one person because I mildly disagreed with one of his comments that used several well known Anglo-Saxon expletives. Ironically that's the sort of action the Nazis would have approved of. Stalinist Russia would have put me in a gulag. Over here I get defriended on Facebook. Oh well!

Great Britain has an income, just like a household, and has to keep to that budget or go into debt. Once in debt the household has to cut its cloth to get back into balance, not spend even more to make itself feel better. I, for one, know that only too well, and saying it doesn't mean I'm a Tory.... and certainly not a Nazi! I'm just a householder who will probably vote another load of unaccountable politicians into power on Thursday, who will promptly forget me and the rest of the population by Friday.

At least I won't get any more leaflets through the door for 5 years.... unless of course the result is so inconclusive that they need another election!

Heaven forbid!

Blog on, Dudes!