Promoting my new novel during the cost of living crisis

Times are hard, we all know that. This isn’t going to be a blog about the war in Ukraine and its impact on global gas/oil prices, nor a political dissection of what’s going on in Westminster. Nor am I trying to gain any sympathy for what I’m about to tell you all….

The cost of living crisis is hitting us all in many ways, big and small. One small way it’s impacted on my new book – Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere, my third crime novel featuring Detective Constable Dominic Strider of Chester CID – is in the way I get to promote it to the book-buying masses.

Like most people, I’ve had to recently re-evaluate our household finances and cut out any unecessary expenses or luxeries. One of the things I axed, after serious consideration, was my new website which I’d just started.

I’d bought a domain from Go Daddy and was mid-way through a free trial period in which I had virtually built the new site. But I looked again at the future cost of maintaining the site. It would have been £7.99 a month – or £95 a year – and that was during a Go Daddy sale, as it was normally £15.99 a month. When we all have rising costs for food, gas and electricity, that was a potential ongoing cost I just couldn’t justify.

It’s a shame to lose the website, as it’s a shop window selling your goods, in this case me and my three Strider novels (so far). In normal times, it would have been a terrific way to promote myself and my work.

But, after axing it due to the cost, I got to thinking: what would it have offered that wasn’t already available to you? The video showing Strider’s race through the city centre with the bomb? Well no – that’s pinned to my Twitter and Facebook profiles, its on LinkedIn and Instagram, and available on my own YouTube channel, as well as on my Amazon author’s page and Patreon page.

Watch my video showing DC Strider’s race through the city centre with the bomb – available on my social media and YouTube channel now.

Details about me? Well, you can read as much or as little about me as you like on this, my WordPress blog, as well as on my Amazon author’s page and social media.

A peek at the first chapter of Strider Begins? You can get that by clicking on the book title on Amazon and reading my introduction to Strider’s first ever murder investigations.

Details of future book signing events? Well, due to COVID, the traditional signing sessions whereby I sit down and meet n’ greet punters have stopped for the forseeable, and any time I sign copies of my book (so the store can advertise them as ‘Local author – signed copy’) I’ll be promoting them very heavily (with pics) via WordPress and my social media channels.

What else? How to contact me? Social media. Pictures of me at my previous book signings, from the dim and distant past when I was promoting my first two Strider novels? See below. Pics of Chester? Used copiously in my blog and on social media.

So what have I really lost by shutting down the new website before it had even gone live? Not much in the grand scheme of things. It’s been a minor disappointment, yes, but at a time when we all need to tighten our belts to save some cash, it’s no biggie.

All my major channels of communication and promotion – WordPress, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn – remain free to use. Thank goodness for that and long may that continue. When times are tough, we need to be more creative and resourceful about using as many cheap or free tools as we can.

And who knows: when the nation’s finances start to recover, I might still return to the website idea. Or not, if I find it offers nothing new of value. Watch this space I guess.

How I made a YouTube video promoting my new crime novel

Click on the video to see my short promotional film on YouTube now.

So I made a short film today to promote my third crime novel ‘Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere’, which was published earlier this month (April 2022).

The idea first came to me three years ago actually, when I created a similar video for Kickstarter. I was trying to raise money to get the book published, to no avail.

Flash forward to 2022, and the book has finally been released by publishers Britain’s Next Best Seller. You can find it on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle right now.

I am working hard each and every week now to promote it, coming up with different ideas to keep the book at the forefront of the public’s mind. So I resurrected the idea of the video today.

It was fairly easy to edit. I used Video Manager on my laptop and dragged into it a lot of pictures I’d taken myself of Chester, where the novel is set. (NB as I own these pictures, copyright isn’t an issue).

I started it off with a title card (simply the book’s title, superimposed over a gorgeous shot of the Eastgate Clock), and then interspersed the photos with text cards on which I wrote a simple story.

It paraphrases the opening chapter of the novel, where Detective Constable Dominic Strider of Chester CID finds a bomb outside Chester Cathedral and – with the bomb squad nowhere to be found – he takes the typically reckless decision to pick it up and race through the city centre, to throw it into the River Dee just before it explodes.

You can time the length of each picture shown (2, 3, 5 and 7 seconds long are your choices), and add some music from a pre-chosen list. This ranges from soft and romantic, jaunty and fun, right up to heart-pumping action – which I chose to reflect the desperation and great sense of urgency in the chapter.

Once done, it took a short while to process, then the work began to promote my new video. I prefer a joined-up communications approach, with my blog linking to my business page on Facebook, my Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. I also uploaded the video to my personal Facebook, my Amazon author’s page, Patreon page and my own YouTube channel – actually it’s my first ever proper YT video, and the first of many I have planned to promote my books.

The video is obviously different from my regular blog. It’s obvious to say, but it’s shorter, far more visual, fun and exciting to watch and – importantly – captures the essence of my book in less than 90 seconds.

A whole afternoon’s work for just 90 seconds, eh? But if you like it, and want to find out more by visiting my Amazon author’s page, any of my social media or – especially – you decide it looks like such fun, you want to buy a copy – it’ll have all been worth it. So please visit the video now and enjoy!

Please click on the picture to visit my Amazon author’s page now.

New novel – one week since launch

We’re exactly one week since my third crime novel, featuring Detective Constable Dominic Strider of Chester CID, was released.

Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere is an origin story for the indomitable sleuth and takes place in the week running-up to Easter. Thus, its release last week was very serendipitous indeed!

Rather than solely bombarding the world and his wife on launch day, I’ve decided to spread the launch publicity out over the coming weeks, slowly but consistently beating the drum for my book each and every week for the forseeable.

Last week was a social media blitz. This very blog gets shared over WordPress of course, and also on my Twitter, Linked In and business page on Facebook. I then replicated the post on my personal Facebook page and Instagram (annoyingly, you can’t add links to IG posts so I updated my bio on there instead to link to WordPress). I’ve pinned the article at the top of both Twitter and Facebook for maximum exposure.

Since the book was launched on Amazon by my publisher, I linked that page to my own Amazon author’s page, which lists my previous two DC Strider novels too.

Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere is an origin story for the indomitable sleuth and takes place in the week running-up to Easter. Thus, its release last week was very serendipitous indeed!

I’ve updated my Patreon page, offering followers exclusive access to other writing work from my novels, short stories and (unpublished) film scripts and invites to book signings and other events – all for the princely sum of £1 a month. A bargain I say.

Being a former local newspaper journalist, I then wrote a story about myself, publicising the book, with pics of me and the front and back covers (as shown here). These were sent to my local news websites (including Next Door), my local paper, where I used to work and live (Chester) and in my home town (Tamworth in Staffordshire).

Finally I sent the same story, with a few tweaks, to my work’s intranet team for it to be published on the staff intranet. This led to me being invited to speak about my novel at our department-wide staff meeting with the CEO! I had lots of complimentary comments and some orders from colleagues, so all worked well.

So what’s next? Well, I have an old Kickstarter video which advertised the novel back when I was trying to raise funding for it, about three years ago. So I plan to re-edit the video and put it on my old YouTube channel which, frankly, is almost redundant these days (barring some old audition tapes). So I plan to shoot more videos in the near future and revitalise the YT page – check it out later.

I have book signings to try and organise in local bookshops, and I’m going to enter as many crime novel/writing awards that I can. It just means that I aim to keep the book in the public’s eye for weeks and months to come.

So please feel free to read my blog, visit my Amazon author’s page to find out more about me, and (once uploaded) watch the video, all of which will be pointing you towards the novel itself – a fun, twisting, dramatic, comedic, mysterious and cracking read.

Till next time, happy reading!

Strider truly begins – book launch day is here at last!

Everything comes to those who wait – and boy, what a wait!

It was back in 2019 when preparations were first made to get my third crime novel – Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere – into print, thanks to that wonderful couple who run Britain’s Next Best Seller, David and Kelly McCaffrey. I’d first met them at a London Comic Con event, they loved the book and we all thought that was it.

Of course then the global pandemic struck. People had far more important things to be concerned about, plus social distancing would have ruined any potential book signing event, so I was relaxed enough to bide my time.

Not that it hasn’t been an anxious wait, naturally. And I am so over-joyed that we can finally launch my third book on the unsuspecting crime novel-loving public today. It still hasn’t sunk in entirely TBH.

Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere is available from today (11 April 2022) on Amazon – please click the link in this paragraph.

The paperback version is £8.99, and it also comes available on Kindle devices. It’s 288 pages and of course written in English – although we are looking at getting it reprinted in other languages around the globe.

You can even read the first six pages on Amazon, to give you a flavour of my writing style and the general story. Basically it uses the framing device of Detective Constable Dominic Strider, of Chester CID, sitting down with his girlfriend Kate to recount some of his older cases, starting with his very first murder investigations.

The novel takes place in the run-up to Easter – so its publication this week is very fortuitous and timely indeed!

On his last day in uniform before joining CID, Strider foils a bomb plot after finding an explosive device outside Chester Cathedral. This sparks a chain of events that leads him on a manhunt for the bombers, taking in two very different murder victims – a local journalist and an elderly lady – and his entanglement with a devious drug dealer and some very distinctive bank robbers.

But the back-drop to his adventures is his collapsing marriage, leading to his final conclusion that, for all the crimes he solves that week, what has he really achieved if his private life is in freefall? By the final page, you’ll find out how he’s done a great deal of good for the city of Chester, but will still have travelled down a Road to Nowhere.


In preparation for today’s book launch, I have started a Patreon page for people who wish to support my writing endeavours, including the completion and publication of my FOURTH DC Strider crime novel, which I am half-way through.

For £1 a month you will get sample chapters from my three published Strider books and early segments of the fourth book, and have a chance to read my previous short stories and other writing, including sample film scripts. You will be the first to know about book signings and interviews. There is a What’s App number just for Patreon supporters on which you can ask me questions about my writing process. You can see pictures of Chester I have personally taken, and look out for some videos which I will be doing for YouTube in the future. There’s also plans for me to take part in podcasts, which supporters will have exclusive access to before anyone else.

Every penny raised will go towards promoting and supporting my books, including me getting the fourth book published and promoted in full. So don’t hesitate, please support me today on Patreon.

You can find out about my previous DC Strider books – No More Lonely Nights and Long & Winding Road – on my Amazon author’s page.

What’s happened since I’ve been away?

Friends, fans and readers alike. Amazingly, it’s been two years exactly since my last WordPress blog. And boy, has a lot happened since then!!

Two Springs ago, I told you how I was preparing for the publication of my third Detective Constable Dominic Strider crime novel, Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere. Best laid plans and all that?

Since then, well, let’s not dwell too much on the details, but in summer 2019 we sold our flat (the process was a nightmare). I subsequently had health issues caused by the stress and needed medical check-ups (another nightmare). Then a certain little bug started creeping its pernicious way into our lives…..

These things have all conspired to distract me from my novel-writing for quite a while, unfortunately.

Throughout it all, there have been two constants, which I am very lucky and grateful to have.

The first is my undying enthusiasm to get my novel in print. I think it’s the best thing I’ve written since the first one (and is possibly better, as I have definitely matured as a writer).

The second constant has been my wonderful publishers, David and Kelly from Britain’s Next Best Seller. They too have been affected by the spread of the virus, as has every aspect of our daily lives, work, ambitions and relationships.

But David and Kelly have kept in touch throughout, even saying they’d understand if I wished to take my work elsewhere. I refused to do that because a) they are awesome people, and b) loyalty is profoundly important to me.

So we have reached the two-year anniversary of my last blog on WordPress. I have completed another final proofread of my book, and thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in DC Strider’s action-packed, laddish (and sometimes tragic) world.

Regarding ‘Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere’, my third DC Strider crime novel

I think it’s the best thing I’ve written since the first one (and is possibly better, as I have definitely matured as a writer).

We have the cover design to agree, then we are good to go. Is it too ambitious to think we might be releasing this summer? Who knows?

But I have waited for so long, what’s another few months, when I know the book looks great, my publisher has done a brilliant job for me, and they have exciting PR opportunities lined-up including a podcast, interviews, press and such like.

And – when lockdown finally finishes in the coming weeks and months – I even plan to revisit Chester for the first time in ages, to walk those same streets that Strider patrols, knowing that whatever life throws at him – a bomb threat, double murder, a treasure hunt and a personal tragedy in Road to Nowhere – he will survive and thrive.

As will we all. So please stay safe and healthy, have the vaccine, keep reading, and I look forward to seeing you at some socially-distanced book signing one day in the near future.


‘Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere’ starts on the first day when policeman Dominic Strider joins Chester CID.

He is immediately plunged into action when he finds a bomb outside Chester Cathedral, primed to detonate in four minutes. With no sign of the bomb squad, he has only one option to avoid disaster – he recklessly picks up the bomb and runs through the crowded city centre streets with it, hoping to throw it in the river before it explodes. Well, they say you should always start your novel off with a bang!!

That’s only Chapter 1.

Who planted the bomb and why? Who murdered a local newspaper reporter and an elderly lady, and what’s their connection to the mysterious disappearance of a treasure trove? Can DC Strider catch the bank robbers and drugs kingpin bringing misery on the city? And why does DC Strider dress up as a Roman centurion to save his best friend’s life?

All these questions and more will be answered in the book.

Preparing for publication – the final proofread

They say writers can get ‘word blindness’ from reading their own work over and over.

Which is why it was important I had a break of several months between submitting my 3rd novel – Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere – to my brilliant publishers Britain’s Next Best Seller, and giving it one final proofread.

I re-read it again this week, while on leave (in Chester actually, where my DC Strider novels are set!), and found a lot of really tiny mistakes I’d made – a missing colon, here, an extra letter here, etc. Small stuff for sure, but important to get them corrected too, perfectionist that I am.

All of these corrections have been submitted to BNBS now, and I look forward to the next stages of publication, including discussing the cover design and getting a marketing plan in place (I’ve already started contacting some local booksellers about arranging book signing sessions).

As a former newspaper reporter and currently working as a comms professional for the government, accuracy in my work is of paramount importance. But so too is keeping that distance….

So finish your work and leave it alone. Lock it in a drawer, go on holiday, just forget about it for a few weeks. Then you’ll return it feeling renewed, with a fresh pair of eyes. Just take your time, don’t skim over the text, read it slowly and carefully. And don’t let your ego get in the way – we all make mistakes, so be open to the fact you’ll have inevitably messed up a spelling here, some punctuation here. Just mark it down and either make that correction yourself or send it onto your publisher.

If it’s the latter, I find it easiest to write down the page number and which line on the page the correction occurs, what my mistake was and, in bold, what it should actually read.

So best of luck with your own work, and giving it that one final check. And if you can get an editor to go through it as well – that’s even better. New readers might spot things you keep missing.

At the end of the day, whatever way you do this, all we writers want is the best, most professional-looking, perfectly-written book possible. 🙂


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‘Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere’ starts on the first day when policeman Dominic Strider joins Chester CID. He is immediately plunged into action when he finds a bomb outside Chester Cathedral, primed to detonate in four minutes. With no sign of the bomb squad, he has only one option to avoid disaster – he recklessly picks up the bomb and runs through the crowded city centre streets with it, hoping to throw it in the river before it explodes.

Well, they say you should always start your novel off with a bang!! That’s only Chapter 1.
Who planted the bomb and why? Who murdered a local newspaper reporter and an elderly lady, and what’s their connection to the mysterious disappearance of a treasure trove? Can DC Strider catch the bank robbers and drugs kingpin bringing misery on the city? And why does DC Strider dress up as a Roman centurion to save his best friend’s life?

All these questions and more will be answered in the book. 

Two weeks left to help me get published – have you joined my Kickstarter campaign yet?

Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere

You’ve just two weeks left to join my Kickstarter journey and help me get my latest crime novel published.

My publishers, being a small family-run firm, just don’t have the capital investment that’s available to large conglomerates. So instead, they help authors like me achieve their dream of getting published with a different, innovative new way.

They launch Kickstarter campaigns for their authors. Everyone has a fundraising target and one month to achieve it. Raise enough cash and you get your book published. But if you don’t raise enough funds…..  😦

My Kickstarter campaign is to get my new crime novel ‘Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere’ published. I have a target set at £850. But I’m nowhere near that yet – and I need your help please, my friends.

Please click on the link above and watch the KS video of Chester landmarks (which I produced and edited myself).

Read more about WHY I have turned to Kickstarter to try and get published, and PLEASE click on the ‘Donate’ button to pledge your support.

For just £1 you will get a downloadable copy of the book. For £8 you’ll get a paperback version of it and a signed copy for £12 – that’s IF I can manage to raise enough to get it printed and released, that is!!

Many thanks in advance for all your help and support, and many regards! 🙂


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Kickstarter campaign launched – let’s get my latest crime novel published!

Hi there. I’m writing with some superb news about my 3rd crime novel ‘Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere’ – and how you can help get it published please! 🙂

Having tried in vain for many months to find a big name literary agent, I happened by chance to meet a lovely couple, David and Kelly, who run a publishing firm in the North East called Britain’s Next Best Seller.

As they don’t have the capital investment available to the corporate giants, they run Kickstarter campaigns to raise enough money for each author to get their book published with them.

My Kickstarter campaign started today (Thursday 15 November 2018).

Please visit the link above, watch the fun video (which I produced and edited myself), and I hope you’ll be kind and generous enough to click on ‘donate’ and support me please.

Just £1 gets you a downloadable version of the book or £8 gets you a paperback copy (scheduled to be printed – hopefully – in early 2019!!). It’s £12 for a signed copy, if any of you are keen for my signature. 😃

For my part, I will be promoting the heck out of this on all my social media for the next 30 days, while the publishers have arranged for paid-for ads on Facebook and Google.

When (hopefully) we’ve raised enough cash for it to be published, there’s a publicist who will work with me to get interviews into London papers (where I live) and Chester ones (where my crime novels are set).

Meanwhile I am currently contacting all the local bookshops I can to try and arrange book signing sessions next year.

So it’s exciting times and I very much hope you’ll come along with me on this incredible journey.

Please visit my Kickstarter page, watch the video and make a donation. However small, it all really helps me to achieve my dream of getting my 3rd crime novel published.

Many thanks in advance and many regards, all the very best! 🙂


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Praise be!

A phrase I use often at work (that’s my day job in government communications) is ‘Praise from Caesar!’ 🙂

It means you’ve received some encouraging and complimentary words from someone higher up than you, usually the big boss. Well, something similar has just happened in my ‘second job’ as a crime novelist.

I can’t reveal too much yet because we haven’t signed contracts, but a publisher has been reading my 3rd Detective Constable Dominic Strider mystery, entitled ‘Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere’.

He told me he was “really enjoying it”, loved how Strider wasn’t a typical clichéd copper, but was “a fully rounded character” and how the numerous jokes were “making him laugh out loud”.

Wow oh wow, I was genuinely blown away by his comments. After all, he doesn’t have to be nice or kind to me. He has the power to turn me away and say ‘no’. But he’s enjoying the book and, well, fingers crossed……..

Satisfied readers

It got me thinking about feedback for my first two Strider novels – ‘No More Lonely Nights’ and ‘Long & Winding Road’ – which were printed around a decade ago. Both are available in paperback and on Kindle via Amazon.

Social media wasn’t so prevalent 10-12 years ago, and so the best ways to market these two books was in my newspapers (I’m a former journalist) and via word of mouth.

The first book – ‘No More Lonely Nights’ – was launched in a Chester bookshop that’s sadly no longer with us. I held other signing sessions for it in both Chester and Ellesmere Port.

And when I held signing sessions for the second book – ‘Long & Winding Road’ – a lot of people were what you’d call ‘repeat business’. They’d enjoyed the first novel so much they were back for more!

The company of strangers

Everyone who’s ever written a book knows how lovely it is when family and friends praise it. But in the words of Mandy Rice Davies, in the Profumo scandal: “Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?”

So, to me, the very best feedback has always been strangers. The customers who come to your signings (see above).

The people who leave me 5-star reviews on Amazon, lauding the twisting plots, the grittiness of the locales and crimes, the complex and fascinating character of Strider himself.

The wife of a local politician (who’d never met me, and had no reason to be nice about my work) who told me the first book was “a cracking read”.

But my all-time favourite piece of feedback comes from a boy aged 12, who approached me at a signing session for ‘No More Lonely Nights’ at Borders Books in Ellesmere Port. I wouldn’t let him buy a copy of the book because it contains violence, swearing and a sex scene. But he asked me what the plot was about anyway. I told him…..

His reply, which he shouted across the store: “OMG, that sounds absolutely awesome!!”

He then ran off excitedly to tell his mum, who promptly bought a copy. Gee, I wonder if that boy is reading this blog today. All grown-up, I really hope his enthusiasm for my work remains undiminished.

Keeping it balanced

In the interests of balance, I should tell you about any negative reviews I’ve received. A few people have been mildly complimentary – one colleague said the first book was “good, but too laddish for her” – and others have said they liked it without elaborating, which makes you think it just wasn’t their cup of tea. Fair enough.

But truth be told, I have never, ever had a bad review. Not ever. Hope I’m not jinxing things by saying that! 🙂

Which leads me back full circle to the publisher, who’s currently halfway through my 3rd book, and loving it. I’ll keep you posted on what happens next. But I’m anticipating something very exciting indeed!!


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Welcome to Chester!

With my blogs now attracting more and more ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ both on WordPress and social media, I’m absolutely delighted that more and more people are being introduced to the wonderful City of Chester.

As well as being my home town, Chester is, of course, the stomping ground of Detective Constable Dominic Strider of Chester CID – the super-sleuth in my three (to date) completed crime novels.

To me, that’s one of the greatest pleasures in writing my Strider books. Being able to introduce people to Chester – a city most people in the UK and some from abroad have heard of, but many have never visited.

Sure, they’ve probably heard that it’s an ancient Roman city with almost complete City Walls still intact (and which you walk around safely, admiring the exquisiteness of the compact city centre as you complete the hour-long circuit).

They have probably heard it has an ancient Roman Amphitheatre, half exposed and half buried. That the settlement boasts a magnificent gothic Cathedral and sits on the majestic River Dee.

And they might even be able to name-check The Rows, that unique two-tier mainly wooden shopping structure – ie shops upon shops – which you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

But Chester is far more than a sum of its parts. It’s a splendidly complex, unique, wonderful, sometimes magical, occasionally frustrating, little city with a big heart and a lot to say for itself. I know that first-hand, having lived and worked there for 15 years.

I don’t just know the ‘surface’ Chester either… the city centre you might shop in, socialise in, and work in.

No, having been a local newspaper reporter for those 15 years, I know its good points and bad points, its strengths and weakness, its hidden underbelly. The twilight world of police investigations, backroom political deals, corruption and crime. The council estates a mere stone’s throw from the Town Hall and Cathedral, which contain people whose lives are a million miles away from the middle class, the gentrified, the great and the good.

It’s in these two disparate worlds that DC Dominic Strider treads, and which his first-person narration brings so evocatively to life in my novels.

Strider doesn’t just walk down the main shopping streets, places you could pick out on a basic city centre map. He knows the lesser-known streets too, the built-up estates and tenements, the dark alleyways filled with shadow and menace. And above all he knows the people…. the good, bad and sometimes ugly.

He is your guide into the sometimes public, sometimes hidden, always fascinating City of Chester. He’ll tell you the city’s history but also put a human face on it.

So if you can’t make it up to Chester yourself any time soon, then check out my two published Strider novels No More Lonely Nights and Long & Winding Road – both available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

And keep reading/following this blog, because one day soon I should have fantastic news about my 3rd Strider novel, which takes us back to his earliest case. It’s called Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere, and it starts – as all good stories should – with a bang!!


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