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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Long hot summer in the city

Setting my DC Dominic Strider crime novels at various points in the calendar means that, inevitably, at least one of them will be set in the long, hot summer months.

That happens to be the case with my first – and most personal – novel, No More Lonely Nights. NMLN takes place over one hectic August weekend in the height of a scorching hot summer.

In retrospect, I must have been going for a sultry, film noir type feel to the storyline. Maybe A Touch of Evil or Body Heat – well, the story features both evil characters and, er, a lot of body heat generated by Strider and his love interest, the visiting American journalist Kate Laughton!

Having lived in Chester for 15 years means I’ve experienced many lovely summers – and some really grim ones too! I got married on July 1st 2000 – and it tipped it down with rain all day!!

When the sun comes out, so do the tourists and residents alike, and it’s these that Strider must reluctantly bump along with in NMLN as he tackles the killer of a local prostitute, armed robbers, police corruption and threatening letters sent to the local MP.

Sun-speckled locations used in the novel include The Rows, the medieval two-tier shopping system; the Kaleyard Gate area and Cathedral grounds themselves; The Groves alongside the river; Eastgate Clock and The City Walls; the Roman Amphitheatre; and a fictional pub by the canal (scene of a huge fight and, later, where Strider calls in reinforcements); alongside various homes and businesses pertinent to the plot.

Chester is stunning to visit in the summer months and, thankfully, is home of dozens and dozens of tea shops, cafes and restaurants – all of which are generously air-conditioned!

So if you want to walk the hallowed streets where DC Strider still treads to this day, get yourself down to Chester this summer. You won’t regret it!

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Meghan, The Queen and the ever-changing face of Chester

So wonderful to see my old city of Chester getting some international coverage last week, with a visit by the lovely Meghan Markle and some old lady (OK, OK, I know it was The Queen!!)  😀

As part of their itinerary, they dropped into Storyhouse in Northgate Street, which in the olden days was the Odeon Cinema, one of my favourite haunts when I lived there. Sadly the Odeon closed years ago.

After standing disused for a while, this 1930s art deco listed building has been wonderfully converted into a library, meeting space, theatre venue and small cinema. Megan and The Queen toured the building before unveiling a plaque to officially open it, and watched a performance by local schoolchildren.

You can find out more about their visit from my old newspaper the Chester Chronicle (I was a journalist there in another life).

 

To me, the Royal Visit demonstrates the changing face of Chester City Centre. I once wrote a film script in which the manager of the Odeon was visited by Cupid himself (a bungling version of Cupid anyway) to set right his disastrous love life. The Odeon no longer exists.

Other scripts and stories I’ve written over the years also reference venues and locations in Chester that either don’t exist anymore or have drastically changed since the days I knew them.

The biggest change has happened to the police and where they work in the city.

My first two novels starring my detective character DC Dominic Strider referenced the former Cheshire Police HQ in Nuns Road, opposite the magistrates’ court.

This seven-storey building was abandoned by the police a decade or so ago – they moved to a new HQ in Winsford. In recompense for leaving Chester, the police opened a new Chester, Ellesmere Port & Neston divisional police station on the Blacon council estate in Chester, and opened a tiny police office in Chester Town Hall.

So in my first two novels – No More Lonely Nights, and Long & Winding Road (both available in paperback and on Kindle) – I have Strider working in the old police HQ in Nuns Road.

By the time I rebooted the character and started writing the 3rd (completed) and 4th (half-completed) novels, the old HQ had long gone. What to do? So I decided to simply ignore what had happened to the old HQ, and just gave Strider an office in the Town Hall police base instead.

On the one hand, this is annoying and ruins any sense of chronology in my books. On the other hand, the ever-changing city centre landscape makes an author like me think on my feet, allowing me to change and adapt my own work so the Chester in my 3rd and 4th books – and beyond – represent Chester just as it is today.

That is the modern, constantly-evolving Chester that Meghan and The Queen enjoyed visiting so much last week.

 

 

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Public Holiday Number One

Easter is nearly upon us. As always my thoughts are never very far from Chester, the setting of my Detective Constable Dominic Strider crime novels & my home and workplace for 15 years.

It’s not a conscious thing I do, but I once realised that my Strider books tend to be roughly set around various public holidays.

The first, No More Lonely Nights (NMLN), happened over the August Bank Holiday period. The second, Long & Winding Road (L&WR), was in the run-up to Christmas. The third, Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere (RtN), took place over Easter.

Setting a novel over a public holiday, to me in hindsight, makes sense. It’s a short period of time so the action is speeded up and more frenetic, plus the holiday itself makes for an interesting background detail.

You could also have less people in authority around, if you set something on a bank holiday – say Strider wanted to visit the Council. He couldn’t because the offices would be closed. Wouldn’t bother him – he’d just break in anyway to find out what he needed.

The good old British weather is another great addition to these novels, creating a vivid and interesting backdrop. From the hot days and sultry nights of NMLN to the crisp, fresh snow that Strider trudges through in L&WR, and to the April showers that threaten to wash away evidence from the crime scene in RtN, the ever-changing British weather is almost a character in itself in my stories.

My fourth novel – which I’m halfway through writing – is set over the summer again, as the opening action scene takes place at Chester Races. The racecourse holds race meetings throughout the summer and early autumn period, so this makes for an ideal setting for Strider’s latest adventure.

But more about this novel later – I haven’t figured out yet how to end it. All I know is that Strider will be hitting old London town and taking down the villain in his usual inimitable style.

All of which leads me to bid you ‘adieu’ and have a very Happy Easter!!

I HEART Chester!!

It was Valentine’s Day this week, and it’s cemented in my mind how one of the loves of my life is actually…. something that’s not even living! Well, not in the usual sense!

I first fell in love with Chester when I was in my late teens, having visited for the day  with my aunt. Walking under the archway of the magnificent Eastgate Clock, taking me from Foregate Street to Eastgate Street, a sudden shiver went down my spine.

I was home!!! 🙂

That was the bizarre yet joyous feeling I had, that somehow this city would play an important part of my life. And so it would come to pass…..

I wrote many of the first drafts of my debut crime novel No More Lonely Nights while living elsewhere. I relied on an A-Z street map purchased from Chester’s local tourist information office to find the best locations for the story: Rowlands Heights flats in Newtown where the body is found; Bridge Street for the jewellery robbery; a pub by the canal, the Blacon estate, the MP’s house in Upton and the old police station.

I finally moved to Chester in the summer of 1995, having completed my year-long journalism course, and started work immediately at the Chester Chronicle as a general reporter, as well as police, courts and health correspondent.

My love affair with my adopted home city continued over the years, as Chester played host to numerous important life events. It’s where I met my first girlfriend, where I met and married my wife, and where we got our first house, in Handbridge overlooking the River Dee.

We moved down to London in November 2009 for work and social reasons, and consider ourselves fully-fledged Londoners now, albeit Northerners in London!

However, we still have family in Chester and relish visiting them a couple of times a year as we get to see the old town once more. As former residents, we see the place with fresh eyes and can be very critical about new buildings, closed businesses, and other changes we don’t agree with.

But I wouldn’t miss these visits for the world. My three other books – Long & Winding Road, written while still living in Chester; Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere and Till The Fat Lady Sings, both written in London – are all set there. My main character, DS Dominic Strider, works for Chester CID. He’s Chester through-and-through!

As much as I love my new home in London, and it IS a fantastic city with a wealth of opportunity, Chester is and will remain my first love. Well, when we’re talking cities of course. Other types of love are a whole new topic in itself!!!!

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Times they are a changing…

One of the oddest things about setting your novels in a real-life city like Chester, is that the place is constantly changing and evolving. The question is: how do you catch-up with those changes? How do they affect your novels’ timeline? Or do you ignore them altogether?

When I wrote my first crime novel – No More Lonely Nights (available on Amazon Kindle now) – Chester was a fairly stable city. Nothing much was changing. The action took place in the city streets and suburbs. They will never change – and indeed haven’t. How could they?

But then came the second novel – Long & Winding Road (also available on Amazon Kindle). By the time of writing this, a fair few years after the first, Cheshire Constabulary had decided to move out of their seven-storey HQ in Nuns Road, opposite the magistrates’ court. They had a crazy idea that they didn’t want to be based in Chester, the county town of Cheshire, anymore. Instead they wanted to move to an industrial park in Winsford, the complete opposite side of the county. Bizarrely, the fire brigade made the same decision around the same time – and abandoned Chester for Winsford.

L&WR ends with my detective characters DC Dominic Strider and DI George ‘Slapper’ McKedrick telling the Chief Constable they didn’t like this move. Naturally they wouldn’t have been forced to move to Winsford too. But because Cheshire Police Station had been based on the ground and first floor at the HQ building, it meant there would have to be a new cop shop for Chester. This was eventually built on the Blacon estate on the edge of Chester. The police made this a divisional HQ, bringing together the different police areas of Chester and Ellesmere Port & Neston (at the base of the Wirral). Strider and Slapper didn’t want to be based there either.

So the police created a THIRD police station, by taking over some office space in Chester Town Hall. The argument was that Chester still needed a city centre police presence that the public could walk into and meet & speak to coppers face-to-face. Sounds sensible, right? To me, this is as integral to a front-facing police service as having bobbies on the beat. But the police nationally seem to be withdrawing more and more from public life and face-to-face contact these days…

Naturally, Strider and Slapper decided they wanted to be based in the police office in the Town Hall. And because they’d saved the Chief Constable’s daughter from the serial killer – read the novel, it’s all explained in there!! – they got their wish.

That all seemed fine with me. The second novel reflected local history. I was happy. But then came the problems with the third novel… and the fourth, which I’m currently writing….

You see, I decided that the first two books formed a perfect character arc for Strider, and I didn’t want to take his storyline any further from that point in his life. So for books three, four and more, I decided to reboot the series. Go back to the beginning. Let’s look at Strider’s cases from his early days, starting just before he becomes a detective. Plenty of scope for good stories there, and I have ample storylines in mind for them!

But here’s the rub: what the heck do I do about the police station and the disappearing HQ? You see, chronologically, go back to Strider’s roots and you go back to when the old Cheshire Constabulary HQ was still standing and operational in Nuns Road.

But for book three, I brought it up to the modern era, as I felt the story should remain contemporary. I gave Strider a smart phone, for example. He surfs the internet, he uses social media. None of these were particularly prevalent at the time I wrote the first novel.

So, I had to make a careful decision about the cop shop too: do I ignore local history and have him still based in the old Constabulary HQ, which would have looked weird to any Chester-based readers; or ignore what was written about the HQ in the old books and just have him based in the Town Hall police office (the current arrangement for the town’s coppers).

I opted for the latter and chose to conveniently ignore what had been written in the past.

My reasoning: it brings the new books up to date with what’s happened and is happening in Chester (even though they are set BEFORE the older books in time). It makes sense to new readers to just say where he is based and not explain it – they won’t want a history lesson.

And if the X-Men films and Bond films can mess with their own timelines, chronology and continuity (and seemingly get away with it), why can’t I??

 

Write what – and where – you know

My crime novels featuring Detective Constable Dominic Strider are set in Chester and, to a much lesser extent, Ellesmere Port.

I lived in Chester for 15 years – working as a general reporter on the Chester Chronicle for seven of those years, and the rest of time as Chief Reporter for the Ellesmere Port Pioneer. To say I am exceedingly familiar with both those towns is quite the understatement. 🙂

However, many moons ago when I was 15 and first had the idea for what would become my first DC Strider novel – No More Lonely Nights – I was living in the Midlands, where I grew up.

I’d visited Chester just once. I’d been staying with my auntie Shirley (again in the Midlands), and we used to drive out on day trips. One of those trips was to the medieval former Roman garrison, the city of Chester.

Waking underneath the Eastgate Clock, the world’s second most photographed timepiece after Big Ben – I shuddered. I had an innate, raw sensation in my body, an intuition that I belonged in this city. That I was home. And eventually that came to pass, as I moved there at the age of 23 (staying until I was 37 when I moved to London).

However, flash back to when I was 15 and visiting Chester for the first time. It struck me there and then that this gorgeous, historic city would be the perfect setting for DC Strider’s adventures. But I was a mere visitor for the day. What did I know of the city’s history, culture, social fabric, its people, its heart and soul? Nothing.

I bought a map and a local history book, and used both to intricately plot the opening chapters – Strider by the river, the suspected suicide at the Rowlands Heights flats in Newtown, by the station. Other locations sprang from the map and/or book. The Rows were the most obvious ones. These are two-storey shops on top of shops, with a wooden walkway in between.

Characters lived in the suburbs, initially chosen at random by me. It was only once I lived there for real, that I could decide once and for all the perfect locations for people to live and work. Amazingly I’d got it pretty much spot-on at the beginning. The MP lived in middle-class Upton, his secret street walking daughter lived on the council estate in Blacon. Strider lived in a posh house by the river, in The Groves.

It was far easier writing the follow-up book, Long & Winding Road, many years later. I sat in my study, in my house in the village of Handbridge near the City Walls and the River Dee, and wrote it from my own personal knowledge and experience. It was divine. I knew the local hospital, the river, the secret alleyways and streets, the parks, and the Town Hall where much of the action takes place. I’d been there, trodden those same pavements, played on the grass, explored the hidden nooks and crannies the city has to offer, worked in the hospital (I was the paper’s health correspondent) and covered numerous election nights and other events at the Town Hall.

Incidentally, Chester Town Hall was where I shot the first (of many planned) DC Strider short films! In January 2007 I spent two days filming the short ‘Strider Gets Iced’ there, and one further day filming in the now disused Gateway Theatre round the corner. In fact, I was one of the last people to ever work at that theatre before it was closed.

Now, I have a third DC Strider novel in the bag (and am seeking literary representation for it) – Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere. It starts off in the Cheshire countryside before flashing back to his early exploits, and basically takes place in two very well-known locations that are dear to me: Handbridge and the city streets themselves. It culminates in a deadly treasure hunt criss-crossing the city centre, and features a Roman centurion!

Which all leads me to Strider novel No4, Till the Fat Lady Sings, which I have just started writing recently. The opening chapter is all about Chester Races, a hitherto ignored location in my books. Strider is on patrol, watching out for pickpockets, but ruminating not just on the history of the ancient racecourse – one of the oldest in the entire world! – but also of having the privilege to see the races from a private box above the finishing line and having access to the paddocks in the centre of the course. Both are described from memory and experience, as I spent many happy summer days at the races, as a guest of Shell UK in their executive box, and exploring the racecourse and seeing the paddocks, the stables and more.

It’s this personal experience – of seeing your locations with your own eyes, of walking where your characters now walk, breathing the same air, hearing the sounds and seeing the sights that they will experience and describe – that really enriches my work beyond all measure. It gives my novels complete and utter authenticity.

Many Chester residents will know and love these locations too, and I hope for those who’ve never ventured to the city of Chester, the books inspire them to make that trip. It’s one of the ‘jewels in the crown’ of the North of England, and I hope my florid descriptions do it justice. So come along to Chester now, you’ll love it. It’s my kinda town! 🙂

Achieving the work-life-art balance

Everyone wants to achieve that perfect balance between work and home life. But for artists of any nature, there’s that additional element to fit into your hectic schedule.

How do you fit your artistry – be it novels, paintings, acting or singing – in with the demands of a full-time job, family, hobbies and relaxation?

I can’t claim to have the right answer – we all do whatever we can in our own particular circumstances. But for me, it is an ever-present challenge. So I’m going to share with you how it works for me.

Two weeks ago I took a fortnight’s Annual Leave from work. I actually have so much leave built up from over the past few years that it was literally made one of my work objectives this year to use it all up! True story!

So I took advantage of that time off, and the fact my wife and I aren’t going on a holiday this year, to spend lots of time at home, working on my novels.

I’ve already detailed in my previous blogs (see below) how I spent that last fortnight: putting my second book Long & Winding Road onto Kindle, promoting it judiciously and then starting writing my fourth book. So how’s it gone since then?

Well, er…..?? The fact that this, my third blog, comes a fortnight later probably says it all. Does it mean I’ve lost interest in my work? Of course not! But it does exemplify the difficulties I experience in holding down a full-time job; having a committed relationship (I’ve been married 17 years); having a rigorous health and exercise regime (I go to the gym three times a week and yoga every Thursday night); and needing that vital relaxation time too.

In 2016, when writing my third novel Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere – which I am still pitching in vain to literary agents – I decided to write one chapter virtually every night until it was done. It was a tremendous effort that left me exhausted, physically and mentally, but it got the book done within six weeks. I was in a particular rush to get it out of my brain, down onto the laptop, in order to start pitching it the agents. The idea was: if they ask for it, I have it to send instantly to them!

Thankfully, I don’t have that same rush right now for my fourth novel – Till the Fat Lady Sings – so I don’t have to destroy my health and relaxation time so much to get it done. But I still have to find that writing time somehow.

I started writing TTFLS earlier this month. I wrote the chapter plan beforehand and then, for the actual Chapter 1, I decamped to a local Costa Coffee and spent a very pleasant afternoon writing it up. The cafe was far less noisy and hectic than I’d first envisioned and afforded me a very relaxing, uninterrupted period in which to get my thoughts down and concentrate on DC Dominic Strider’s latest adventures. It ended with me writing most of the chapter, honing it and coming up with fresh ideas on the hoof. Chapter 1 takes place at the historic Chester Roodee Racecourse (hence the hoof pun!), and is a scene-setter which leads to a great, fun chase and fight.

Writing in Costa is something I’d love to replicate from time to time, but of course it’d mean having to either take my laptop to work, in order to have it ready for post-work 5pm; or taking the day or week off work again. So thank goodness I have more leave to take in September, October and November/December.

It does mean my writing will be more sporadic than last year, but on the other hand I’ll have several weeks here and there of uninterrupted writing. In this case, it actually works to my advantage because, while Road to Nowhere was fully formulated in my mind and merely needed transcribing, TTFLS is a bit more unplanned. I know where it’s going but only know 3/4 of the ‘how’ Strider arrives there. So it’ll give me much more time to think and plan, and see what fresh ideas pop into my mind to help propel the story along.

I still aim to get the book fully completed by this Christmas. But I promise you won’t have to wait that long for the next blog! 😀

Till next time, adios amigos and thank you everyone for all your support!! 🙂

How Amazon can help and frustrate when you’re promoting your novels

Hi there guys,

Thank you to those of you who read and enjoyed my debut blog last week.

I published it after putting my second crime novel ‘Long & Winding Road’ onto Kindle. My first book ‘No More Lonely Nights’ is already on Kindle, and both are also available in paperback on Amazon.

Both feature the adventures – and personal complications – of Detective Constable Dominic Strider of Chester CID, who has to single-handedly tackle serial killers and assorted criminals (including corrupt cops!) in the beautiful medieval city in the North West of England.

Importantly, I want to thank Amazon for the services they provide for authors. Yes, I know you don’t get the royalties you might from a ‘traditional’ publisher but you have to accept that the exposure it gives you is phenomenal.

So, since last week, I have been working hard to promote both these older books, and hope to use them to build up a brand recognition for myself and for Strider, in order to publicise and generate interest in my new Strider novels (book 3 is already written but unpublished, and I’m starting book 4 right now). Books 3, 4 and about half a dozen others I have planned are all new, fresh stories. I’m currently seeking literary agents/publishers to take them on.

This publicity work has proved both gratifying and frustrating. For example, Facebook adverts have a great reach but cost ££. Writing a blog on WordPress is fantastic but you need to work hard and spend ££ to ensure a wide readership. Updating my personal website – lonelynightsproductions.co.uk – has taken me hours today, as I had to go into the coding, and the content management system is a little unwieldy and doesn’t always give you the results you want.

But one of the biggest surprises was with Amazon. Now, I’m certainly not biting the hand that feeds me, as it were. But I can vent my frustration here because I’ve already spoken to Amazon about it (and they’ve responded).

When I uploaded L&WR to Kindle, I updated my Author’s Page and thought that would be it. But then I remembered that I’d had some good reviews – all 5/5 from Kindle readers for NMLN. Naturally I wanted those to be linked to my Author’s Page but could not find them anywhere. I took me a while to twig that Kindle and the Author’s Page it takes you to are all on Amazon.COM and not, as I’d naturally expected, Amazon.CO.UK as I am a British author based in London.

I spoke to Amazon and, while they thanked me for pointing it out and said they’d take on board my suggestion that an Author’s Page should be synced across all territories, they told me that – bizarrely – at present each different territory operates separately.

Which meant that, today, I had to go to CO.UK and duplicate my Author’s Page already on COM. Not too difficult, except….. what they offer is a little different. COM allows you to upload up to 8 photos, a biog, events listings, videos, and a dedicated Author’s Page URL. So my COM Author’s Page is packed with all that stuff. It’s fantastic, and I actually prefer it to what the CO.UK site offers.

However, my CO.UK Author’s Page just has the biog, videos, events and 8 photos. It looks OK but a little anemic compared to the COM page. Most disappointing is that it doesn’t include any link to my WordPress blog… ironic as it’s the UK site and I’m a UK writer!!

Also, bizarrely, my Amazon pages on both COM and CO.UK both had my info wrong – they had a line saying I’m interested in Arab culture (I’m not), have been to Palestine (I haven’t) and am a talented musician (well, I used to play the violin in an orchestra when I was a kid, but that’s about it…). I couldn’t find a way to remove this line either, so had to complain to Amazon directly for them to remove it.

Anyway, it’s all done and dusted now so this could be a little academic, I guess. But it could serve as a valuable heads up for any other writer. 🙂

I feel knackered now as I’ve been working hard on just the publicity for my books for the past three days now. There’s still more that I could do – I haven’t even started compiling a list of readers yet (though I have researched it). I’ve also made contact with a publicist for authors and provided him with links to all my online sites. He hasn’t got back to me yet but I hope to hear from him shortly and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get the chance to pick his brains and get some great ideas which I haven’t thought of yet.

I’ve also got to write a script for some 30-second videos of Strider I’m thinking of filming and publishing on my YouTube page.

So… what now? After publishing this blog and publicising it across my social media, I’ll give it a rest today. After all, it’s been more than 5 hours since I started and it’s been a bit relentless.

From tomorrow I’m going to a local cafe with my laptop and will start writing book 4 – which starts with an action scene at Chester Races, and sees Strider clash with the most evil woman he’s ever met!! Wish me luck…  🙂

MORE INFORMATION

My website

My Author’s Page on Amazon.com