Monday, December 16, 2013

Getting through Locked Doors.

I’ve just finished reading a thriller by a top author and found myself disappointed with the way in which he elevated his two main characters to an almost Superman and Wonder-woman level. Why so? As a writer myself, I do try (hopefully) to give my characters a vulnerability that is natural in a human being, which I believe is only fair to the readers. If I fail to do that I can then make them do anything without any apparent difficulty. How often have you read of a character who manages to slip through a locked door because locked doors were no problem for a man with his skills? I have lost count of the number of cheap, $0.99 thrillers I have downloaded from Amazon on to my Kindle only to be thoroughly disappointed by the cheap tricks the writers use to get their heroes out of scrapes that would prove impossible in normal circumstances. I think all of us know that when we watch Bruce Willis’s character, John Maclean, we are watching pure escapism. The same for Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo, and Arnie Schwarzenegger’s host of tough guys. I have failed to complete the majority of cheap Kindles downloaded on to my PC. One writer who stands out for me as a real trier when it comes to building that normal vulnerability into her main character is Carmen Amato. She writes of a female detective working in a strong, macho environment in a Mexican police station. She is good at her job but suffers all kinds of insults and indignities from her male colleagues. She rises above it to compete successfully, but she doesn’t slip through locked doors or beat macho men senseless because she is the main character. This is a tribute to Carmen Amato’s strength in her writing. I wish other so-called thriller writers would use their imagination and not invent heroes and heroines possessed of magic qualities that leave me shaking my head with disappointment.

On a personal level, for those of you who follow my blog; I have had my second session of chemo and managing to keep upright. I am also toying with the research I used for a thriller I had planned to write last year but binned it for a Romance which will be published next year. I hadn’t planned to do any more writing for a while because of my treatment and because we are preparing to move out of our house into rented accommodation prior to handing over to the new buyers. But the old habit has kicked in and I am digging into my research and thinking of new ways in which to change my plot. No real hurry but I know that I can’t sit around doing nothing about my writing. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 9, 2013

What a Week!

What a week it’s been: promising all the way. I started getting to grips with my new laptop and Windows 8 (still don’t like it) and learning how to get on without my old PC and monitor. But that’s what happens when you sell your house and want to go back to UK. During the early part of the week I received my free copies of THE EAGLE’S COVENANT from Harlequin Books. The paperback was released in North America in November, and I can now say I have two books with a traditional publisher across the water. I then received a request from my publisher (Hale) for a synopsis and blurb for my latest novel, PAST IMPERFECT, which I expect to see published next year. The synopsis was easy because I already had one prepared, but the blurb was so difficult. Describe your book in 150 words with enough impact to grab a reader’s attention and make them want to read your book. No doubt when I see the finished article in print I’ll see how I could have done better. Aren’t we all like that though? On Friday our son, Terry and his daughter, Gemma, our eldest grand-daughter, came over to see us for a couple of nights. It was great having them here, and just the tonic to help the battle (with cancer). Terry has designed all my book jackets. We had a chat about redesigning THE EAGLE’S COVENANT because of its lack of sales and very dark jacket. The jacket for the Harlequin book is very light and miles away from anything I would have considered. But that what professional jacket designers do. It’s on the back-burner for a while; probably until the New Year. After taking our son and grand- daughter back to the airport, we managed to get along to church: first visit for three weeks. We enjoyed that immensely.

I don’t expect this week to be as uplifting though because I’m back on chemo this Wednesday; another trip into the unknown. Hopefully me and Pat will get through this without too much hassle. Pat will be keeping an eye on me and I’ll be doing my best to keep an eye on her. She’s looking after me brilliantly, but that’s what you do when you see your loved one suffering. I’ll have to buy her giant present for Christmas. Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

In Absentia

Those of you who have been following my blog will know that I have been missing for a few weeks. This is simply a case of life getting in the way of my plans. A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with Lymphoma, which is cancer. It was something of a shock and then a case of coming to terms with it. I started the first of six chemo sessions about ten days ago and thought I was doing well until it hit me during the week. I've had several rough days, but it's to be expected. On the book front I signed an agreement for my latest novel, PAST IMPERFECT, with my publisher, Robert Hale. This will be my ninth, traditionally published novel, which makes me proud because of the difficulty in finding a publisher these days. I also received an advance for the publication of my paperback, THE EAGLE’S COVENANT, by Harlequin Books of Canada; once again a traditional publisher. I now have two books with Harlequin. I’m hoping they may pick up my latest once Hale have published it. This novel, by the way is a romance, but with a hard edged, back story. I've ventured away from my usual style and can only hope that the book sells and doesn't disappoint my readers. When I do get round to working on something else, it will almost certainly be a reversion to type. Meanwhile my other titles are still available on Amazon Kindle.
Another element of disruption in my writing progress is the fact that we have sold our house and will be returning to UK once I am clear of my treatment. We are hoping to settle somewhere in the south of England: Dorset or Hampshire possibly.
Life can get exciting at times, and that is certainly the case for me if you can take the view that the variety and spice of life doesn't always contain good news. We all have our trials and tribulations to go through, and I know God is watching over me and He will help me get through this. I’ll keep this blog up to date now, hopefully, and bring both the good and bad news as it comes. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not Quite an Ordinary Week

The week went well, but not much to talk about really. I completed the re-edit of my manuscript and signed the agreement with my publisher. Now it’s a waiting game. Sometime in the New Year I will receive a PDF galley proof for PAST IMPERFECT, and hopefully there will be nothing for me to add other than a dedication etc. I get a good feeling out of this; knowing another hardback of mine is on its way. I know it won’t rock the literary world, but there are a lot of library readers out there who read my books and, hopefully, look forward to the next one. This time though, they’re in for a surprise, and I suppose I ought to apologize beforehand because Past Imperfect is not a thriller: it’s a romance with a rough edged back story. There are elements in it that could satisfy some of my readers like murder, mystery, sadness, joy: all the ingredients of a novel to curl up with at bed-time. But now the romance is out of my system, it’s time to think of my next book; and I expect I will be going back to the thriller genre no doubt.
I’ve made a start on clearing out my room. It’s where I write, play my keyboard and generally run that side of the house that my wife leaves to me: finance, bills etc. The room is a bedroom but will be left empty when we sell the house. It will be the only room to be left that way because our buyers want almost all of our furniture. Isn’t it amazing how much stuff you can accumulate over the years? Because we do not have to move out until the end of March, it gives us time to plan our move in relative calm. The only black spot of the horizon is the possible treatment for my Lymphoma. I will be getting the blood test results tomorrow and no doubt will know what to expect and for how long.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the sales figures for NORTH SLOPE. I use NovelRank for this, which is not entirely accurate, but the signs are encouraging. My promotion with BookBub ended November 1st, but since then the book has continued selling. It isn’t breaking records, but compared to usual month on month sales, the figures have increased by a substantial margin. It encourages me to consider another BookBub promotion in the New Year. It has also given a fillip to my other titles. This is what I need to increase my readership. Apart from a lucky break on Amazon, the only way for a writer to become established is to build a flank of readers who like the work and are prepared to recommend it to others. It’s a slow process, but one that will come if the product is good, which I believe mine is. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Old scores to settle

I'm pleased to announce that the Large Print version of Old Guns is now published.

Sam Ransom, broadsided by the death of his old partner Abner, learns of a note left by the dead man – warning that the infamous Meak twins are after Ransom’s life because of what happened at Bur Oak Springs over two decades ago. Ransom knows he must alert the rest of his gang, who were there at the time. His family is in jeopardy and their only hope of salvation is the gang’s return to confront the Meak brothers…

The old guns find themselves up against young guns. It’s a classic situation, where the past returns to not only haunt the hero, but to threaten disaster and death. While the story is set in July 1892 and spans a period of twenty-one days, it harks back to 1859 and also 1866.
An excerpt from the book, plus the original hardback cover can be found at this blog:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cracking On

How time flies: November already and Christmas round the corner. We bought our first Christmas present today: something for our great-grandson, Harrison. He lives in Cyprus with his mum and dad, but will be in England this month for a couple of weeks. More photos for Facebook!
I’ve finished cutting the word-count on manuscript for my publisher: managed to get it down to the required notional count of 110,000 words. Now I have to read it through just to make sure I haven’t left any ‘holes’ there or doubled up on sentences. I suppose most writers are the same: the novel looks brilliant until you been through it several times. But no matter: if I expect efficiency from others in the profession, I have to be prepared to work at it myself.
The BookBub promotion for my novel, NORTH SLOPE looks to have been successful. Although I don’t have access to the sales figures yet, I do know that I passed the 1000 sales figure within 48 hours, and have seen the “guesstimates” on novel rank showing increasing sales throughout the week. The promotion ended last Friday and I’m still selling. I had planned to put the price back up to $2.99 (it’s currently $0.99), but will wait a while until I see a fall off. My main aim was to cover my investment ($360) and get more readers, and I have achieved that. I even attracted a sales pitch from someone who tried to interest me in a promotion with no ‘upfront’ costs. Goes with the territory I suppose. I’ve also noticed a lift in sales of my other titles: nothing dramatic, but an overall improvement on September’s figures. Now, of course, I have to think of ways to keep that going. I’m not planning another promotion for a while, but I will probably try to come up with something in the run-up to Christmas. Any ideas out there?

So what now for this writer? A trip to the hospital next week to find out what’s in store with regard to my Lymphoma is next, but before that I will spend time reading my MS, learning more about nutritional foods and keeping faith with God to bring me through. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Into Our Lives a Little Rain Must Fall

Turbulence is a word associated with oceans, but when it comes into your life, it can be like waves crashing on to the rocks. My week has been one of good moments and bad moments; the worst of which was being diagnosed with Lymphoma; a form of blood cancer. So now the battle begins. The next step will be a blood test and then a decision about treatment. Meanwhile me and Pat strive hard to be strong, knowing that we have our faith in God to hold us and faith in the specialists to do their job. Into this turbulent water there still flows a pool of good news and expectation. It has all been a changing week really. Last Monday my friend; Dave and I were practicing a couple of music number for our Saturday night ‘Sing-along-supper’ at church only for our performance to be cancelled because I had forgot to enter our names in for the ‘gig’. It didn’t really matter though because there was a lot going on anyway. Tuesday I had an eye appointment with a specialist. Now I have to take that a step further, but it isn’t such a big worry. Wednesday was the day I was diagnosed with cancer. That put a damper on our day, believe me. I managed to get a game of snooker in on Thursday and, believe it or not, we had some people come to look at the house. The estate agent knew we had sold, but because the initial deposit had not arrived the house was still, technically, on the market. Friday was a meeting of our church house group, and that afternoon the deposit turned up at the estate agent’s office. So now we can say we have sold. Saturday we had a fun evening at church; the aforementioned ‘Sing along Supper’, which was hilarious. But there were also three women from UK with Jamaican ancestry singing gospel songs. They performed the next day, Sunday, at our church in what was called a ‘Gospel Explosion’. Brilliant singers and terrific songs. After that we had lunch with two of our friends who returned to England today for good. So by and large it has been a compact, changing week. And throughout all this I have been editing my manuscript, trying to get the word count down; not an easy task but absolutely necessary. But the big news (the big, good news) was that my novel NORTH SLOPE went on a promotion with BookBub on Friday. It rocketed into the top 100 and reached #1 in Action & Adventure, #1 in Espionage and #3 in thrillers. It had sold almost 1000 copies by Saturday morning and tipped over the 1000 mark by Sunday. It is still in promotion at 99 cents: a bargain. Why not have a look? What’s that saying? Into our lives a little rain must fall. At the moment there’s a storm raging in mine. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tears and Smiles

It’s been a crazy week for me and Pat one way or another. A lot of people have asked what the bad news from the hospital was all about. The specialist I am under wanted more tests before he could decide what was causing my problem, so rather than pre-empt him and attempt to diagnose my condition; I will wait until he tells me later this week. It isn’t the best of scenarios, but my faith in God has given me an enormous strength and belief, and I have no worries or fears plaguing the life out of me. Unfortunately, Pat is suffering and there isn’t a thing I can do about it.
On Thursday we began talking about the house sale and the fact that we could be out of here by the end of November. This threw up another problem in that if I needed extensive treatment we would have to move into rented accommodation, with the inconvenience of having to put most of our stuff into storage and make a decision about our fifteen year old cat. So imagine our surprise when that morning the estate agent told us that the buyers would be confirming the purchase of our property with a deposit, but were quite happy to leave the house with us until April at the latest. (They were unaware of my problem by the way). I see God’s hand in this. It means we can get through the unpleasant detail of hospital treatment and not have to worry about the whys and wherefores of our house move until it suits us.
I haven’t heard from my publisher yet. I’m not unduly worried, but it is a significant change in response time to when John Hale was in the chair. He would have a decision within a week of receiving your manuscript. I asked him about this once. He just shrugged as if reading through a manuscript was not a lot different to reading a synopsis. I’ve already mentioned before that I will self-publish on Amazon if my MS is rejected. What a change from the old days, eh?

Now that we know we have sold, we can begin clearing out the stuff we want and what we don’t want. I think we all know how we accumulate things, but now we must decide what goes and what doesn’t. I am toying with the idea of selling my computer and buying a laptop. My local shop is currently recommending a Lenovo G580 (Windows 8). Any comments? Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Selling or not?

Just because our books are published by Robert Hale doesn't mean we shouldn't be marketing them as authors. The PLR is nice-to-have, certainly, but by marketing our books we might build up a readership that grows from book to book.

See my article at:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hard Work & Luck

I’ve seen various articles recently about the rise and fall of the e-book, and the return to the top of the pyramid of traditionally published books. Each article presents a reasonable and credible discussion on the merits of each process, and for indie authors of a nervous disposition it means the end is nigh! Apart from the famous and the infamous, to be a successful writer you need a massive slice of luck, and there’s nothing truer than that old saying: luck is when opportunity and preparation come together. How often have you heard someone say that it’s taken them twenty or so years to become an overnight success? And one famous golfer said that the more he practices, the luckier he gets. Napoleon once said ‘I don’t want good generals, I want lucky generals’. But if the luck comes your way, you need to sustain it with a quality product, and for a writer that means talent. I can honestly say that I have never been taught to write: all that happened was that I studied English language from junior school up through senior school, which helped me with my spelling, my grammar and also, if ever I needed it, how to summarise. But probably the one thing that has been a constant guide and a hard learning curve has been rejection. That more than anything helps a writer to produce a story that might be acceptable to a publisher, but it doesn’t teach a writer to write. When my first book was published in 1980 (NORTH SLOPE), it sold 2000 copies in its first year. It didn’t go into paperback, and the following year my publisher dropped me. This was another rejection of course. I published that title last year on Amazon and sold something like 6000 copies in less than six months. But I was riding on the Amazon Kindle revolution which has dropped off dramatically now, and so have my sales. The luck was with me then and I hope it continues, but I have to admit that I’m still working on it, still writing and still trying to promote and market my work. So as the e-book market drops away and it is, believe me, I am back in a parallel, literary world to the one I have inhabited for most of the last thirty years, fighting for recognition. But the big guns are fighting back and restoring the publishing pyramid: big boys on top, bottom feeders at bottom. The difference now of course is that success is down to me and will come depending on how hard I work and how lucky I become. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 12, 2013

When 14000 isn't such a big number.

I’m making good progress with my current mss. Last week I had reached 34000 words. By the weekend I had managed to notch that up to 47000. This puts me about halfway through my planned number of words. If I can keep that kind of progress up, I can expect to complete my first draft by the end of September. However, I think my last week’s output was exceptional, and would only expect to complete about 3 to 4 thousand words a week. We’ll see.
And on the subject of big numbers, or small, depending on which way you want to look at it; I promoted HELL’S GATE on BookBlast yesterday (Sunday), and began a two week run for the title on Indie Authors 99c promotion. My Amazon sales rank for the book rocketed from 504,000 on Saturday to 14,000 today. The graph was almost vertical. I couldn’t believe it. And my overall author rank for ALL books shot up from 73,000 to just over 26,000. Naturally I don’t expect it to last, but its great breathing in some heady atmosphere. This isn’t the first time I’ve promoted this title, but the difference this time is the category into which I placed it. I’ve always referred to it as Historical, where really it should be described as African Colonial History. However, this time I put it in the Action & Adventure category, and that seems to have done the trick.
On the house selling front, we had someone look last week, but got no follow-up, and this morning we had a Dutch client look over the place. He liked it but had others to view. We actually saw him at three other properties on our urbanisation with the Estate Agent, so it’s just a case of being in the mix and keeping our fingers crossed.
Oh, another decision I’ve reached is to put HELL’S GATE on Smashwords. I will not be doing that for a while yet because it is still part of the Kindle Select programme until October 22nd. It’s subjective for me because I can’t expect any significant improvement in sales simply by adding to the other eReader outlets. It won’t do my sales figures any harm though.

Yesterday (Sunday) was a significant day also. I was over at Pilar Christian Fellowship preaching the word. The reason I say it was significant is that I have often been asked to go over to this small fellowship to bring the word, but in October they will be employing a full-time pastor. This means that my services may not be needed again. So yesterday was a kind of farewell day for me and Pat. You can never say never though, and if the good Lord deems it necessary, I will continue in His work for as long as He wants. Maybe we’ll sell the house and I can carry on God’s work in England? Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tigers slaughtered to cure pimples!

Although I write for Hale as Ross Morton, some of you might be interested in my latest release from Crooked Cat Publishing. It highlights aspects about illegal trade in products from endangered species and people smuggling - modern-day slavery.

Nik Morton

Available from -

Tigers slaughtered to cure pimples!

Laura Reid likes her new job on Tenerife, teaching the Spanish twins Maria and Ricardo Chávez. She certainly doesn’t want to get involved with Andrew Kirby and his pal, Jalbala Emcheta, who work for CITES, tracking down illegal traders in endangered species. Yet she’s undeniably drawn to Andrew, which is complicated, as she’s also attracted to Felipe, the brother of her widower host, Don Alonso.

Felipe’s girlfriend Lola is jealous and Laura is forced to take sides – risking her own life – as she and Andrew uncover the criminal network that not only deals in the products from endangered species, but also thrives on people trafficking. The pair are aided by two Spanish lawmen, Lieutenant Vargas of the Guardia Civil and Ruben Salazar, Inspector Jefe del Grupo de Homicidios de las Canarias.

Very soon betrayal and mortal danger lurk in the shadows, along with the dark deeds of kidnapping and clandestine scuba diving…

This topical thriller is Nik Morton’s 18th published book. It should appeal to anyone interested in Spain, crime thrillers, or romantic adventure!


Last year, over 25,000 elephants were illegally killed for their ivory. – National Geographic, October 2012.

A British woman was arrested in Tenerife for stealing rhino horn from the Offenberg museum. A single horn can fetch £200,000 on the black market. This year 455 white rhinos have already been killed illegally. – The Courier, October 26, 2012.
CITES urges transit and destination countries to take urgent measures to implement their plans by July 2014:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

In The Nick

I made good progress last week with my book, reaching 34000 words. I also interviewed a friend of mine who worked his entire, professional life in the prison service. He began life as a trainee officer and finished as a Governor (grade 5). I met Dave (Pritchard) and his wife, Rosie at church last year. We got to know them quite well: they attended our church house group and brought a lot to the table, as they say. I had asked Dave earlier if he would let me pick his brains because I needed a fair amount of detail about prisons in UK in the 1980’s, the kind of life prisoners led, what they could or could not do. In fact, anything that would add realism to the section I’m planning for my book. I prepared a list of 60 questions and recorded the whole interview. I could have listened to Dave and his stories much longer than the 2 hours or so that we chatted. I did explain to him that I might only use about 10% of what he told me, but on reflection I think I’ll probably extend it somewhat. It’s usual to offer someone who agrees to be interviewed something in exchange. Dave was quite happy to come across to our place and have lunch with us and spend time in the pool. His wife was good company too for Pat, and I have a small wedge of material that I am dying to get my teeth into. But I have to be patient: my character is only 13 years old at the moment and doesn’t get nicked for a good few years yet.

We said cheerio to our friends, Brian and Pauline who returned to England for good last week. They travelled back by road with their dog, finally arriving at their new home in Lincolnshire on Friday. We’ll miss them. They lived a couple of hours away from us and we used to visit them on a regular basis. They would come up to us too. The beauty of it was we could have our dogs with us: no need to worry about having them put in kennels or getting a dog-sitter in. But life goes on and we are hoping to sell up soon for our move back to UK. Meanwhile I’ll carry on writing and hoping to finish my book by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 29, 2013

End of a Chapter

Another chapter in our lives came to an end last Friday: two friends of ours have sold their house here in Spain and are returning to the UK this week. We’ve known them for about sixteen years and consider them among our closest friends. But tempus fugit as they say; and as we grow older, our priorities change. We travelled down to their home in Andalucia to have a meal with them and say goodbye, although it isn’t really a farewell because we also intend to return to UK once we’ve sold our place here in Spain; which means we will see them again.
As a result of that trip on Friday I was unable to add any words to my book. I reached 33000 on Thursday and, had I been able to keep up my average, I could have notched up another 1500 by yesterday. However, other events got in the way. I had to replace a ceiling fan in our bedroom which ate into much of my afternoon time on Saturday. Yesterday, Sunday, we were over at a small fellowship in Pilar de la Horadada where I preached the sermon. And in the afternoon we had company, which took care of the remainder of the day.
I managed to complete a further chapter to my book by last Thursday and, like a lot of writers I found myself lying in bed re-writing parts of it. I often see myself further along the story than my current position and get quite excited thinking about how the story will develop. Later this week I will be interviewing a friend who worked as a prison warder for thirty years, serving in some of the hardest prisons in UK where some of our most violent offenders were incarcerated. I need some gritty realism when I come to that part of my book, and I’m looking forward to putting it all on paper. Of course, my friend will come over to our house with his wife and spend most of the day with us, using the pool and having lunch etc., so that will be another day when I will not add any words to the manuscript. But at least I will be adding to the book, so to speak.

I have had a couple of promotions this month on two kindle sites for my historic title, HELL’S GATE. So far there has been no improvement to my sales figures for that. I have another promotion for THE EAGLE’S COVENANT tomorrow on one of those sites, but it looks like it might follow the same path as HELL’S GATE. This leaves me with a conundrum: where is the best place, with my fairly low budget, to place my adverts? I know I can use BookBub, but the cost is fairly high with no guarantee of a return. I am currently thinking of ‘CheapeBooks’. They seem to be very professional and dead straight in what they offer, and the price is reasonable, so maybe I’ll attach myself to them next month. I think it’s fair to say that no matter how good a writer you are, no promotion will get you nowhere, unless you are very, very lucky. So – wish me luck!

Monday, July 22, 2013


J.K.Rowling was ‘outed’ last week as crime writer Robert Gailbraith. She stood little chance of keeping her secret. Robert Gailbraith aka JK, but at least she tried. In some ways I feel sorry for her. She could have rested on her Harry Potter laurels and not put pen to paper again. But in the end, she is a writer, and that’s what writers do: they write. Some years ago I gave up writing, but the urge was still there, albeit suppressed. Then my wife asked me to write a best-seller for her. She encouraged me and the result was I picked myself up mentally, dusted off my e-pen and set about writing again. The result was six more novels, all traditionally published. No, I didn’t make the best-seller list; far from it, but I did enjoy some heady days last year at the top of the Amazon free best-seller list. I can’t empathise with JK because I’ve no idea what it must be like to live in her shoes, but I can understand the frustration in a way. No doubt she wanted to test herself as an unknown, but her name had to come out in the end. All I need now is for a rumour to go round that Dan Brown is really Michael Parker. It could do wonders for my sales figure.
Last Monday I had a promotion on for HELL’S GATE. I’ve yet to see the results, but I suspect there was not much of a change in my averages. Admittedly it was a low price promo, but it was a promo nevertheless. I have another one, same website, for THE EAGLE’S COVENANT at the end of this month. I try to limit my budget for promotion and marketing and that is probably why my results are not as grand as I would like them to be, but each lift I get in my Amazon rankings is always welcome. I check my graph each day and it zig-zags like the teeth of a rip-saw. But with some of the titles the overall change shows a slight increase, week on week. I’ll keep pushing though, and I’ll try not to go into raptures when I see a huge jump.

I’m making steady progress with my current novel. I’m up to 30,000 words, having added 3000 during the week. My aim is a minimum of 500 words each day. It doesn’t seem many, but there will be days (like today) when I won’t add anything, and another day when I might add 1500. So the average will be 500, and that should take me to my target of 100,000 words by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Planting Acorns

There’s an old saying that I’m sure most people have come across: “Big oak trees from little acorns grow”. It’s a fact of life for most of us in more ways than one, and it has a particular resonance with me because of my hobby as a writer. The seeds of my craft were sown many years ago, and had I been a successful writer from the beginning, it may not have been a hobby but a career. For the last two years I have been producing and posting my blog as well as putting my books on Amazon. My success can be measured in small numbers, but often these can be a joy when they begin to grow, and as my fortunes change in the book world, so the smile on my face grows bigger. Recently I discovered a slightly different approach to marketing and promotion. Nothing drastic or revolutionary: simply a different way to approach it. I gave up on the Amazon Select programme and living in hopes that thousands of Prime members would loan my books and so increase my profile. Although my titles are still enrolled in the programme, I now prefer to buy low cost promotion and enjoy the fruits of that particular labour. Three months running now I have purchased low cost advertising on eReader News Today (ENT), and as a result of that I have seen my sales figures grow. Along the way I have also seen some growth in readers of my blog and an increase in my Twitter followers. Although these figures are not astronomic, in terms of where I was two years ago, I feel I am now in a better place.

One of the encouraging sides of book promotion is of course good reviews. But they can also be notoriously fickle and very damaging. So it’s an absolute joy when I see an unsolicited, five star review for one of my titles. I try very hard not to read my reviews, but I noticed a couple of days ago that HELL’S GATE now had two, five star reviews. My curiosity got the better of me and I sneaked a look. I can’t tell you how humble I felt when I saw what had been written about me and the book. You can check the review out at rather than take my word for it. So you see, I’m feeling quite good about the way things are shaping up. They may not be growing at an enormous rate, but the signs are there. And incidentally, HELL’S GATE is being featured on the kindle boards discovery promotion tomorrow: July 16th. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Monty McCord

The end of July will see a BHW on the racks with the title of Monty McCord. There's a story behind that title. 

It started the day I met Monty McCord at a Western Writers of America conference two years ago. Monty McCord. What a name! Perfect for a cowboy protagonist. "Hey, Monty," I said. "Gotta have your name. Can I use it for my next hero?" 

"As long as you don't drag it through the muck," he said.

"Never happen," says I.

I sat down and began to write Monty McCord, the story of a Colorado cowboy. Just to give you a whiff of what the story's like, here's the first little bit for you to read.

Monty McCord topped the hogback above Mexican Hat and reined in his dappled sorrel. He threw a leg over the horn of his saddle and pulled makings from his shirt pocket. As he rolled the smoke, his eyes scanned the village, then the approaches, then the heights of the mesas off toward Monument Valley. For a man with Hunter Billings’ riders on his back trail, Monty made his smoke like he didn’t have a care in the world. Hunter Billings. Gawdawful hunk of an old man who figured he owned Twin Fork Basin and the town of Watsonville, even though Frank Watson was there before him and even though Ellen Watson made it clear she wanted nothing of Billings’ boy.


Monty figured Ellen was OK, as women went. She took over the Flying W when old Frank passed on, and she did a rightful job of running the spread. Monty McCord admitted that. Ellen Watson was some woman. But she owned a ranch and Monty McCord was nothing more than a line rider. A good line rider, but not one who could sidle up to a ranching woman and make her notice. Besides, she was the boss.


Dust showed on his back trail.

Monty snubbed out the smoke on his saddle horn, ripped the paper and scattered the tobacco. He rolled the paper into a tiny ball with thumb and forefinger and tossed it away, a habit born of years riding in the pine tree country of Arizona’s White Mountains. Suddenly he missed the peace and quiet of the Cooley ranch where he’d cut his teeth as a cowboy.

What the hell was he running for? He’d beat the shit out of nasty snot-nosed Hartley Billings. Tromped his ass. Then killed him.

Wouldn’t have done that if the kid hadn’t shot at him when he was about to leave through the batwings of Woodrow’s Saloon. The kid’s bullet had very nearly clipped Monty’s ear, and worse, damn near holed his spanking new black Stetson.

Monty reacted. His hogleg was out and cocked as he turned. He touched off a shot as the pistol came in line and Hunter Billings’ precious son lay dead.


The cloud of dust seemed closer. A mile? Less?

Monty McCord was tired of the chase. Not because he’d ridden so far. Not because of the gaggle of hard riders on his trail. Just because of the unfairness of the whole thing.

Hartley Billings had pushed Monty. Pushed him hard, saying he was a two-bit puncher who’d die with a horn in his guts or pitched from his horse into some worthless bottomless canyon.

“Shit, kid,” Monty said. “You can’t even wipe your own ass. You gotta call some dollar-a-day waddie to clean up your goldam messes. You ain’t got what it takes and your old man knows it. That’s why he wants you to spark Ellen Watson. She could save the H Bar H for him. But you. I hear you like men better’n women.”

The kid came in punching, and Monty laid him out. Had to give the boy credit. He got up and came in again, swinging a chair.

Monty kicked young Billings’ legs out from under him and connected with a looping right as he tried to get up. Smashed the boy’s nose. Monty pushed the fight, slowly beating the kid to a pulp as he backpedalled all the way to the bar.

“Nuff,” Hollard Smythe, the bartender, said. “Things’ll go hard enough as it is. Lay off.”

The kid crumpled.

“I hear you, Holly,” Monty said. He picked up his new black hat, cleaned the sawdust off it, and set it on his head at a jaunty angle. He walked for the batwings and the kid had to shoot at him. A man naturally shoots back and Hartley Billings lay dead.

“Jayzus,” Holly said. “Old Man Billings’ll be after your ass, Monty. You’d better light a shuck.”

Monty did. And now he had to decide whether to keep running. He never was one to run. Wasn’t like him. He walked Baron down the hill and into Mexican Hat.

A dumpy stop on the Outlaw Trail, Mexican Hat bore the name of a rock formation off to the west, marking the eastern edge of Monument Valley. One saloon, one cantina, and a rickety place without windows that stood empty, but wore a faded sign that read Garrison’s General Store. Monty counted the hovels. Thirteen looked lived in, half a dozen abandoned.

He walked Baron the sorrel down the trail . . . it would be hard to say a wagon road led into Mexican Hat . . . with the sun climbing near its zenith. Heat waves formed a mirage of cool water over under the southern horizon. Sideless brush jacals[JG1]  kept the harsh sunlight from tiny patches of red dirt. A lizard panted, halfway up a bare juniper pole. Monty pulled his black Stetson low over his eyes. Without showing any sign, he searched the little village for anything unusual. A dog lay at the edge of the street, tongue lolling. The dirt around it said the dog was in its usual place.

Two horses stood before a low adobe structure that had CANTINA whitewashed on one side. The whitewash was nearly gone, but the name was still readable. Twenty yards away, facing the cantina, a false-front frame building wore a sign that said “Whiskey.” One horse stood hipshot in front of it. Nothing moved. Not even flies.

Half a mile on down the dusty track, a rickety bridge spanned the San Juan river. Maybe the only reason the town existed. It certainly was about the only place where cows and ponies could be swum across the San Juan and pushed down the Trail toward Chinle, Juan Lorenzo Hubbell’s trading post, and Navajo Springs, where the thirsty stock could at last get a decent drink. Commodore Owens always had a bottle for the cowboys at his place there, and he never asked leading questions.

Monty chose the saloon. He could drink mescal when worse got to worst, but preferred a civilized drink like branded whiskey. Old Grand-Dad, or Turley’s Mill. Maybe he’d have time for a snort or two before Billings and his iron-toting men rode in.

He tied Baron to the hitching rail next to a brown that looked like it hadn’t had a square meal or a chance to browse in the last month, maybe more.

There was no door, just an opening in the false front. Windows on either side gaped without panes, like the empty eye sockets of a longhorn’s skull. Monty shrugged.

Inside the saloon, Monty stepped aside and waited till his eyes could adjust to the dim interior. A quick glance showed him the scene. Dust on the floor. Dust on the chairs and tables. Dust on the empty bottles behind the bar. An old man with a scraggly beard stood with his back against the wall beyond the bar. Monty walked slowly over. He took the kerchief from around his neck and flapped it at the bar, moving enough dust for a place to put his elbows, which he did.

“Whiskey,” he said.

The old man shuffled over. “I’d sell you house whiskey,” he said, his voice sounding like his throat was full of sandpaper, “but I ain’t got none. You’ll have to make do with Old Potrero or Jameson’s.”

“Old Potrero’s good,” Monty said.

The old man squatted and rustled around in the space back of the bar. He stood up with a clear bottle in his hand. “Knew I had some left,” he said. The bottle bore no sign of a label. The liquid in it was amber.

The man blew the collected sand and dust out of a shot glass and poured it brim full. “That’ll be a dollar,” he said.

“A dollar!”


“Shee-it. Get four drinks for a dollar over to Woodrow’s in Watsonville.”

“This ain’t Watsonville. You can move across to the cantina. They may have some mescal. Most likely tiswin, though. A dollar.”

Monty paid.

The old man set the glass in front of him and put the bottle back under the bar.

“Whose cayuse outside?” Monty asked.

“Mine. Keep him there to draw customers. Mostly it works.”

“They got two in front of the cantina,” Monty said.

“White men usually want whiskey. One horse’s enough.”

“Looks like he could use a good bait of oats.”

The old man cackled. “Mister, you think a shot of whiskey’s steep at a dollar, try buying a sack of oats. Me and that cayuse’ve been over more than one trail together. He gets fed afore me.”

Monty picked up the shot glass. “Mud in your eye,” he said, and tossed the whiskey. His eyes watered and the liquor burned its way down his throat and into his stomach. He knuckled his watering eyes. “Damn,” he said.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

THE RAKE'S CHALLENGE - Large print edition

In July, 1814 Anna visits Brighton and sees the sea for the first time.   Naturally, she wishes to experience sea bathing....

... but she ends up in hot water with Giles. That is a minor episode in the saga of an eventful summer holiday where the Prince Regent so nearly gets poisoned...

THE RAKE'S CHALLENGE  Large print edition published 1st July by Ulverscroft in softback.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kindle edition of THE WILD CARD

31st May is publication day for the Kindle edition of  The Wild Card. 

This is the story of Kitty Towers, sent to London by her mama to get a husband. With six younger children in the family, Mrs Towers is desperate to channel the girls into marriage. Independent-minded Kitty has other ideas but a handsome Rake here, a dashing French émigré there, and she begins to feel that there is more to Society life than she thought - especially when she uncovers a plot to sabotage Lord Wellington's Peninsular campaign.

'A sparkling romance.... a quintessential Regency....the sort of book that reminds me why I like reading this sort of thing so much.'  Rachel Hyde,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

All the latest Black Horse Western news

To keep up to date with all the latest Black Horse Western news make sure you check in regularly at the Black Horse Express. Brief extracts and then links are provided to all the news, reviews, interviews and other information that becomes available about your favourite authors.

Recent items :

Black Horse Westerns - April 2012
Review of Mystery Herd by Logan Winters
Review of The Search for the Lone Star by I. J. Parnham.
E-BHWs - April 2012
Bestsellers on Amazon
10 recent reviews on Amazon
Linford Westerns - April 2012
Dales Westerns - April 2012
Review of The Vinegar Peak Wars by Hugh Martin
Review of The Venom of Iron Eyes by Rory Black
Black Horse Westerns - March 2012
An interview with Nik Morton
Review of Range of Terror by Billy Hall
Review of Riders of the Barren Plains by I. J. Parnham
Linford Westerns - March 2012
Wrong Town by Matthew Mayo now available as an ebook.
Review of Last Man in Lazarus by Bill Shields
Dales Westerns - March 2012
Chuck Tyrell talks westerns
An interview with Chet Cunningham
BHW writers try new venture
Review of The Outlaw and the Lady by Chap O'Keefe
Review of Hell on Hoofs by Lance Howard
Review of Hang 'Em All by David Whitehead
E-BHWs - March 2012
Video now available for No Coward by Lee Clinton

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bestselling Hale Kindle titles on amazon - 30 April

1. Hawke's Tor by E.V. Thompson (29 Feb 2012)

Available for download now £5.49

2. God's Highlander by E.V. Thompson (29 Feb 2012)

Available for download now £5.49

3. Beyond the Storm by E.V. Thompson (29 Feb 2012)

Available for download now £5.49

4. Past Caring by Robert Goddard (29 Jul 2011)

Available for download now £5.49

5. Churchyard and Hawke (Amos Hawke mysteries) by E.V. Thompson (29 Jul 2011)

Available for download now £5.49

6. No Less Than the Journey by E.V. Thompson (31 May 2010)

Available for download now £5.49

7. Darcy's Diary: Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of Mr Darcy by Amanda Grange (1 Jan 2011)

Available for download now £5.48

8. Gunhawk (Black Horse Western) by John Long (31 Oct 2011)

Available for download now £2.74

9. The Wolf of Hades by Michael Hillier (31 Jan 2012)

Available for download now £5.49

10. The Black Horse Westerns by Abe Dancer, Dean Edwards, Tyler Hatch and Scott Connor (1 Jan 2011)

Available for download now £6.86

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Murder Fortissimo from Harlequin

The Harlequin paperback of Murder Fortissimo is now out, available from their Worldwide Mystery Library. You can find details on the blog I've finally got round to setting up,
I'd love people to Follow the blog - I'll feel such a fool if I'm rattling round on there! And do please remind me of blogs I could follow too.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

FLOATING GOLD now an e-book

FLOATING GOLD was originally published by Robert Hale Ltd, London in 2010 as a hardcover library edition.

Subsequently in 2011, it was republished (by as a paperback and in April 2012 as an e-book by Amazon for Kindle readers and Belgrave House for 10 other e-formats.

Having been absent from writing for almost three years, I have recently returned with a vengeance and am currently writing the first sequel to FLOATING GOLD. My working title is THE TAINTED PRIZE.

I am hoping to submit this manuscript to Robert Hale Ltd when it is complete.

I am grateful to Hale Books who launched my career as an author in 2005 and has published all five of my fiction novels.

Top insert is E-book cover.
Small insert shows original hardcover from Hale Books.
Jacket illustration by Michael Thomas.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Return to Silver Creek

When this book was published by Hale, it's title was Revenge at Wolf Mountain. The original manuscript was more than 80,000 words, and I had to do major surgery to get it down to Hale's 45,000 word count. So the tale turned from being a view of a woman's recovery from the trauma of rape and abuse, combined with her husband's search for the perpetrator and his wreaking revenge to only the story of the latter. Now, with the publication of the original MS (plus great editing by Nik Morton) as Return to Silver Creek, the entire story is out. Reactions from fellow writers and new readers has been gratifying, to say the least.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Robert Hale Ltd launch new book blog

Welcome to all book lovers, our established authors, would-be authors, and those just interested in the world of publishing, to our new Robert Hale Ltd blog.

Robert Hale Ltd is a small, independent, family-owned publishing company and has been in business for over seventy-five years. In that time we have issued novels here by some notable authors, not least amongst them Berthold Brecht, Robert Goddard’s very first book Past Caring, Harold Robbins, Robert Bloch’s Psycho,Wendy Perriam, E.V. Thompson and, of course, Jean Plaidy. We are adding to our list of new books every year and trust that this blog will bring to your attention stories to please you and new authors whose names will, I hope, rise to the same heights as those of the writers just mentioned. Our wide-ranging non-fiction lists of general books, horological and jewellery books, and the country’s foremost equestrian list of J A Allen, are second to none and contain something to interest and please every reader.

If you are looking at our blog then I imagine you are as passionate about books in all forms as I am. Thank you for reading thus far and enjoy the rest of the blog.

Gill Jackson
Managing Director

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