Old Scars – Amazon links

Old Scars will be published for Kindle (on Amazon) on 1st July 2019.

It is currently available to pre-order. Here are a couple of Amazon links (UK and US). If your region is neither of those, please just search for the unique ASIN reference B07S6HH1L7 on Amazon.

Amazon links for Old Scars:
UK Amazon (.co.uk)
US Amazon (.com)

Old Scars – release date and pre-order news

Old Scars will be published for Kindle (on Amazon) on 1st July 2019. I submitted the Kindle version for pre-order today; as soon as it’s available to pre-order (it’s not an instantaneous process), I’ll post an update with some Amazon links.

I’m initially pricing Old Scars at 99p/99c for the pre-order period and I’ll increase the price a couple of weeks after the actual release date (1st July). This means you get it cheaper if you buy it during the pre-order period or the first couple of weeks when it’s available. No catch, no weird agenda. As I always tell people, right now I’m in this purely to get readers.

There’s also going to be a paperback version available. Due to the way the release process is set up, I can’t set a pre-order period for the paperback so I’m just going to make it available a month ahead of the Kindle version, which means 1st June 2019 or as close as possible – once again, it’s not an instantaneous process and I can’t just pick a date and guarantee the paperback will be available in every Amazon region on that day. As soon as it’s available on the .co.uk and .com Amazon regions, I’ll add the links to the Old Scars page on this site.

Am I excited about the forthcoming release of my seventh novel? Yes. Am I expecting anything more than single-figure sales? Not really. Do I need to work on my marketing strategy? Yeah.

Old Scars – yet more promo material… and some blurb

I’ll keep this short. Here it is:

Back cover blurb below.

When DI Kath Schrader and DS Dan Blacksmith investigate a multiple murder at a quiet country pub, the carnage of the crime scene is overshadowed by the presence of a survivor.

As they explore the survivor’s connections and uncover his past, Dan and Kath are drawn into the sinister, vicious world of human trafficking and organised crime.

In the relentless summer heat of 1986, faced with unreliable witnesses and an escalating bodycount, Dan Blacksmith will be forced to make the hardest decision of his life.

As is hinted in the promo image, Old Scars is due to be released in time to be your next favourite holiday read, in the summer of 2019. OK, fair enough, it wasn’t a very subtle hint.

Bonus point if you spotted this series now has a name. Well done.

Old Scars – title and cover reveal

I started writing the sequel to Cold Inside in July 2017, five months before Cold Inside was published. It’s now March 2019, and this is the longest I’ve taken to write a novel (so far).

The sequel is called Old Scars. I like the title quite a lot, so please don’t use it for a crappy three-page novella that gets published on Amazon before my book comes out. Thanks in advance for that.

Old Scars is currently being read by my test readers, and me, although I have already read it many times – but not right from start to finish because I only ‘finished’ writing it yesterday. That was World Book Day and the timing was definitely not deliberate. I wanted to finish it by the end of February this year but I didn’t quite manage that.

If you read Cold Inside and you liked it, and you wished I’d write a sequel that was bigger, faster, more brutal, packed full of even more badass characters… you may well be in for a treat.

Here’s the cover (in lo-res jpeg format). It could change before publication so don’t fall madly in love with it just yet.

I don’t have a publication date to announce yet. Once the test-reading phase is complete, I’ll probably be able to provide that information. Until then…you’ll just have to wait.

The ‘show, don’t tell’ conundrum

I felt prompted to write this following the varied responses to something I posted on a Facebook authors’ group. Varied and just a little bit misinformed. Okay, there were some raging opinion-wielders but it’s Facebook so what did I expect?

If you’re an author, you will almost certainly be aware of the advice “show, don’t tell” (I hesitate to even hint it’s a ‘golden rule’ because of the raging opinion-wielders pedantically pointing out fatal errors wherever they want to see them).

Couple of obvious pointers, which are not obvious enough for some people: “show, don’t tell” does NOT mean “write long descriptions of everything” or “always try to show, never try to tell” or “follow this rule to the exclusion of any other rule, or even common sense”. And, most importantly and most often misinterpreted, “show, don’t tell” is not purely about describing what something looks like.

Now, the more pedantic and impatient opinion-wielder will want to ask this: Fine, smarty-pants, so what DOES “show, don’t tell” mean?

Easy. It means don’t bore the hell out of your readers, give them something to think about. It means don’t write “The king was evil” when what the reader needs to read is “The king liked to roast kittens for fun and drown miscreants in their own blood, even if all they had done was forget to salute his huge, obsidian statue seventy-five times each day.” It means be entertaining with your writing. Entertainment is key.

We can play around with some more examples, like this:

Sarah was happy.

That’s telling, not showing. Let’s give it some context.

Fred gave Sarah a bunch of roses. Sarah was happy because she appreciated the romantic significance of the unexpected gift.

That’s still telling.

Okay, smarty-pants, how else could you write it?

How about like this:

Sarah stared at the bunch of roses Fred was holding.
“For me?” she asked, clasping her hands to her chest. Her face lit up with a radiant smile. “They’re, oh, they’re just delightful.”

Pure gut-wrenching drivel, granted, but that’s showing rather than telling, and it gets a response from the reader. In this case, projectile vomiting.

In its most extreme form, telling becomes the infamous infodump. This is where the author wants to impart information they believe to be essential – usually the colour of a character’s eyes (green, generally) – but can’t figure out how to work it into the story so they just tell the reader about it.

Sarah looked in the mirror and saw a tall woman of twenty-three with long, frizzy blonde hair and emerald eyes.

That’s telling. Obviously. And a really painful way to describe your character.

First of all, nobody cares about the colour of a character’s eyes or the length of their hair. You generally see these descriptions somewhere in the first chapter and then never mentioned again. Unless a particular feature is essential to the plot, such as in a case of mistaken identity.

But I love how Sarah looks, protests the adamant author. It’s a huge part of who she is. I have to tell my readers what Sarah looks like.

Okay. Try this.

“You know you look like a cat, right?” Fred said.
“How dare you!” Sarah replied, gasping in horror.
“I mean your eyes, dummy. They’re green, like a big, cute, sexy cat.”
“Oh, that’s so sweet of you to notice. What do you think of my hair?”
“Looks like a Barbie doll fell in a cement mixer.”
“Aw, that’s exactly the look I was going for.”

And right there you get the description across, plus some insights into the two characters and their relationship. There are other ways to do the same thing, you just have to think like an entertainer rather than an estate agent.

Try this. It’s a tricky one:

Sarah opened the door.

That’s telling, not showing. Okay, but what if Sarah has been locked in the cellar for twenty years, without daylight? Or how about if Sarah is outside the main entrance of the castle belonging to that evil king? Or playing with a doll’s house? Or about to unwittingly open the front door to a serial killer?

Guess what – writing ‘Sarah opened the door’ would be fine in each of those cases. Adding an adverb would not improve it. Bloating it with descriptions would not improve it. But, and this is kind of important, it could be written differently because that’s up to the author and how they want the reader to feel when they read it.

No more examples, I’m sure that’s enough from me on the subject. I really need to get back to finishing the sequel to Cold Inside. Optimistically, it should be ready in the first quarter of 2019. I’ll post some more information on here as soon as I’ve got something definite to announce.

Controversial tattoo

I went to get a tattoo on my arm and I thought I’d have a bit of fun with the tattooist, while at the same time setting a challenge which would hopefully give me a truly unique and thought-provoking piece of ink art to wear with pride for, well, forever.

I told the tattooist I wanted something very special, but it had to follow a set of specific, inflexible rules.

This is what I asked for:

Three words, in the tattooist’s chosen artistic style. I honestly wasn’t bothered about the type of tattoo font that would be used because the words were going to be the focus of the tattoo.

I told the tattooist the words must NOT include anything racist, sexist, or anything else that could be interpreted as any form of ‘hate’.

There must be no curse words, not even damn or hell or bloody or heck.

No words that could realistically offend anyone (which we all know is impossible these days, but let’s pretend we’re still living in a sane world where being professionally offended hasn’t been invented yet).

Nothing about any identifiable nationality or religion, or national culture.

No puns.

No real names of any person, living or dead.

No names of fictional characters.

No countries, towns or cities, in fact no place names of any kind.

No animals. Because we can’t hurt the animals.

Nothing at all about gender or race.

No mention of war. Or peace.

And, finally, the overriding stipulation that the tattoo must be completely controversial, no ambiguity about it, and that even people who would not find it personally insulting should be seriously questioning my sanity getting such a tattoo.

The tattooist thought about it for about twenty seconds, started to smile and told me to sit back and close my eyes.

Half an hour later I opened my eyes and looked at the fresh tattoo on my arm.

It said: Tattoos are stupid.

New books on the way

While I’m still celebrating the veritable tsunami of sales (single figures at the last count) of my sixth novel – crime thriller, Cold Inside – it is of course time to be writing the sequel while simultaneously planning the next thing I’ll be writing after that.

If you enjoyed Cold Inside (it’s about a 5 in 7.6 billion chance, but let’s go for it), then I know you’re going to be excited to hear that the sequel is well on its way. A fairly accurate estimate would put it at around 35% written, which leads to a finger-in-the-air forecast of a release date somewhere around October this year. That’s allowing for my ruthless editing and plenty of time for feedback from test readers. No title reveal yet, but I do have one.

What will come next? Well, I won’t keep you in suspense; it’s going to be a doomed marketing experiment. So far, I’ve failed spectacularly to get anything more than a handful of sales in genres that are currently popular, so I’m going to put something out in a dual-genre that is probably so unpopular that it doesn’t even have a cult niche of masochistic weirdos supporting it.

If you read this far, maybe you’re going to be intrigued enough to try it out. You at least deserve to hear what the genres are: Horror Western.