Monday, 21 December 2015

How did Good King Wenceslas like his pizza?

How do you fill the blank space inside Christmas and birthday cards? This was always a bit of a puzzle for me. No matter how large you write 'Love Frank', there's still oodles of space crying out to be written on. This became a bit more of an issue when I started calling myself a writer. I felt there was an obligation to write something witty, moving, profound, or at least something more than just my name.

The solution I stumbled over was jokes. Not necessarily good jokes, but ones that made me chuckle. My top for this Christmas are:

Q. What do you call Santa's dog?
A. Santa Paws!

Q. What do you call Santa's cat?
A. Santa Claws!

Q. What do you call Santa on a beach?"
A. Sandy Claus!


Q. How did Good King Wenceslas like his pizza?
A. Deep pan, crisp and even.

Wishing you a restful and relaxing holiday,

Friday, 18 December 2015

Two books, one book?

Strike a Match (or at least this first story in this universe) tells the story of a conspiracy, and as such there is a natural ending for this set of novels (either the conspirators win, the cops foil them, or something somewhere in between). For the last three weeks I've been vacillating over whether I can wrap the conspiracy up in one novel, or whether it requires two.

For example, yesterday I was editing/rewriting a passage where our heroes journey north. There was a two-thousand word section that was fun but which didn't advance the story, so I deleted all two thousand words of it. I went for my walk, thinking that, yes, this is going to be one book rather than two.

This morning's task was to polish a two hundred word paragraph that leads into the next action scene. Just as that first burst of caffeine was singing through my veins, I realised I'd missed out a vital clue. Those two hundred words have now become three thousand, and we're back to this conspiracy being told as Strike a Match Books 2 & 3.

Whether it's two books or one, there will be more books in this universe. At the moment the plan is to release one or two a year, initially focusing on the years Mitchell spent wandering the wasteland, bringing law to the brigands. We'll then be crossing the Atlantic to tell the story of a post-apocalyptic presidential election. As for the next book. It's probably going to be called Counterfeit Conspiracy (Strike a Match 2), and should be out in Jan/Feb as planned. I'm at the halfway point in my edit/rewrite and should be done by Christmas, with the first round of editing to be finished before the New Year.

I will keep you updated...

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Woohoo! My Christmas shopping is done…

…and I have a recommendation for the younger members of your family (though I enjoyed reading the book myself).

I find it hard to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. When I wake, and as long as I can grab my coffee and get outside* without having seen the news, my email, or my sales figures, I'm usually set to work from dawn until lunchtime. Black Friday was different. The kettle was taking an inordinate time to boil. Rather than watching it, I made the mistake of opening my laptop and turning on the wi-fi. Five hours later I was still shopping. The annoying part is that I didn't buy anything that was being specifically discounted that day, but stuck to the gifts I'd decided on (and which my family have been making increasingly unsubtle hints that they want) over the past few months.

Anyhoo, amongst the gifts I've bought has to be the most fantastic book I've come across in ages.

Wilf the Mighty Worrier Saves the World by Georgia Pritchett, £3.85 for the paperback:

When Alan, a self-styled Evil Lunatic, moves in next door with his grumpy robot sidekick and his silent right-hand-dog, Kevin Phillips, Wilf soon he realises: only he can stop Alan's ridiculous yet still Quite Evil plan to destroy the world...

It's an apocalyptic novel for children who may be a tad young for the zombocalypse. Utterly brilliant.

Now, with my shopping done, I've just got a bundle of paperwork to get sorted before the holidays and... oh... wait, I've just remembered, I'll need to wrap the presents. Grrr. Right, well, as soon as that's done I'll have the decks clear to finish writing Strike A Match 2: Still Doesn't Have A Title.

* I do most of my writing outdoors. There's fewer distractions from things like the internet, phone, warmth, the fridge, the internet, the cookie jar, the internet and, of course, the internet.

Monday, 16 November 2015

November Update

I finished my outline of Strike a Match 2 last week. The working title is 'The Luddite Conspiracy' though this might be too long for the cover. The outline came to 42,000 words. Going by the previous nine novels, this is about the right length. 

I’m now re-writing it, paragraph by paragraph, making sure that the words match the idea for the story that I have in my head. This should take about 14-20 days, and by the end of it I’ll have a 70,000 word draft. That’s the point at which I go back through it, breaking up long sentences, removing redundancies, and making sure that the herrings are red, and the plot holes are filled in.

All being well, I should have it finished around Christmas. Because editors and proofers take time off over the holidays, it’s hard to say when it will be released. Probably January. Book 3 should follow soon after. I’ve got the outline worked out. I’ve just got a few more locations to find.

Audiobooks. More will be coming soon. I’ll be starting with Serious Crimes, and then Evacuation Books 4-7. If I’ve got my timings right, I will be proofing these four as I’m writing Surviving The Evacuation: Canada, Book 1: Break Out.

Zombies 2016. So, in 2016 I’m planning at least three more zombie books. Two set in Canada in the month after the outbreak, and then Zero, the story of Sholto and his attempts to save the world.

After that... There will be a few stand alone novels in the Strike a Match series, set during the time that Henry Mitchell spent wandering the wasteland, bringing law to the lawless. As for zombies, I have some ideas (Enough for five novels at the moment). I’m not sure whether to set these in the U.S. and in The Evacuation universe, or to set them in the U.K. as part of a new outbreak story. The decision will be based on sales/reviews, and it’s not one that can be made at the moment. Let’s see how the next five novels do first.

And in the meantime - coming very soon Apocalyptic Fears - a multi-author box-set of apocalyptic novels. 

It contains Book 1: London, but there’s some great novels in there you may not have read. It’s a good mix of near-future dystopias, global zombie outbreaks, the apocalyptic breakdown of society, and everyday survival. Authors include Lisa Grace, David Van Dyke, Marilyn Peake and many others (and me!). This should be out by Christmas. More soon.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Serious Crimes - out this weekend

Serious Crimes, the first novel in a new post-apocalyptic, detective trilogy is out this weekend and is £0.99 or local equivalent until Monday.

A transatlantic thriller set in a world of rationing and ruins, democracy and despotism, steam trains and smart phones. This is not the story of how the apocalypse is survived, but of what happens next.

Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Amazon Germany

Epubs are available from 



Nook UK:


Use this code to get it for $0.99: KW52X (valid until Monday)

The paperbacks should be available to order from Amazon by Sunday.

I hope you enjoy the book. The investigation will continue in Book 2, out some point this winter.

Happy reading. :)

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Serious Crimes - Coming This November

I’ve dotted the ‘i’ and have drunk all the tea, now it’s just making sure that the events from Books 2 & 3 all tie in to Book 1. Serious Crimes will be out this month, probably in the next week or two.


Even after the apocalypse, crimes must be solved.

Strike A Match

They called them Artificial Intelligences. Sentient viruses were closer to the truth. They spread throughout the world until every networked circuit was infected. Then they went to war. Millions died in the nuclear holocaust that brought an abrupt end to the AI’s brief reign of terror. Billions more succumbed to radiation, starvation, and disease. But millions survived, and they rebuilt.

Serious Crimes

Twenty years later, a ceremony is being held to mark the first transatlantic broadcast since The Blackout. The Prime Minister of Britain and two of the Presidents of the United States will speak to an audience of nearly ten million people. Not all are celebrating. Crime is on the rise, and power is once again a prize worth murdering for.

Ruth Deering, a new graduate from the police academy, doesn’t care about ancient history or current affairs. She only joined the force in order to escape the smog-infested city. Those hopes are dashed when she is assigned to the Serious Crimes Unit, commanded by the disgraced Sergeant Mitchell. Her first case seems like a simple murder, but the investigation uncovers a counterfeiting ring, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their fragile democracy.

Serious Crimes is a transatlantic thriller set in a world of rationing and ruins, democracy and despotism, steam trains and smart phones. This is not the story of how the apocalypse is survived, but of what happens next. The investigation will continue in Books 2 & 3, out this winter.


Setting - Southern England (Christchurch, Bournemouth, Poole, Milford, The New Forest). Books 2 & 3 should (I’m still in the draft stage) take us to the mobile mining city currently ripping coal from the verdant soil of Glamorgan, the new lighthouse near Kirkwall, and far, far beyond... (wait, I said it’s a transatlantic thriller, didn’t I? Ah, I did. Well, you can probably guess where the story goes.)

Genre: - A socio-economic, political, police procedural, detective thriller set in a post-apocalyptic democracy struggling against conspiratorial dystopian despots, piracy, banditry, and artificial intelligences. With lots of ersatz tea. [It’s a post-apocalyptic / conspiracy thriller]

But, though there are dystopian elements to the story, the society I’ve created isn’t a dystopia. It’s certainly not a Utopia, but a struggling democracy of the kind we’re all too familiar with. I like dystopian novels. I’ve written one and plan to write more, but in almost all of the apocalyptic futures portrayed in fiction it’s the tyrants, despots, and psychopaths who rule the land (and often in some quasi-medieval society.) What if it was different? What if an honest politician and an honourable Admiral grouped together with other good people to try and preserve democracy? Well, other people would try and seize power, and not care how many people they murdered to do it. And that, in part, is this story.

This began... actually there were many beginnings to this story. The largest part comes out of those plots and themes I wanted to include in Surviving The Evacuation but couldn’t due to the undead; steam trains, rooftop chases, people wandering the devastated landscape, sleeping out under the stars, picking over the ruins of the old world, hoping to create something better but being grateful that things weren’t getting worse.

By setting the story twenty years after the apocalypse, and in a low-tech world, I’ve tapped into the more traditional (or pre-technology) detective novels, requiring our heroes to rely on their wits more than criminal databases and forensic technologies. Firearms can be issued to all police without anyone batting an eyelid, thus allowing some fun action sequences that would be completely impossible in our contemporary society (not without our heroes spending the entirety of Book 2 visiting lawyers, psychiatrists, and the police complaints commission.) As to whether it’s plausible for Britain to become the dominant power after the end of the world? I live in the UK, that’s why the books are set here.

This conspiracy has an absolute definite ending, which should be in Book 3, but it might be in Book 2 depending on whether there’s enough material for two more novels or not. I won’t know this until I finish drafting them. I’ve a few ideas for titles, but I’m going to keep them to myself for now. When I put out Surviving The Evacuation, Book 4: Unsafe Haven, I included in the back that Book 5 was going to be called Reunion. That tied me to ensuring that the reunion actually occurred in the book. I don’t know if it would have been better if I’d kept the reunion until Book 6, but I would have been able to release the novel sooner had I not been tied into that specific ending. Lesson learned, and the titles will stay secret for now. I’m aiming for a winter release of Books 2 & 3. More on that soon.

There will be more books in this universe (assuming you enjoy this trilogy, and if you do, please consider leaving a review), beginning with a standalone murder mystery set during the time Detective Mitchell was wandering the British wasteland, bringing justice to the bandit tribes. There’s also a series of short stories. These are the articles written by a Canadian journalist, working for an American newspaper, sent to Britain to write human-interest stories. He’s the first journalist sent overseas for twenty years, so I think there’s going to be a lot of interest in his articles. I was planning to release this alongside the novels, but I’ve learned from Zombies vs The Living Dead, and plan to focus on one task at a time. These stories will come, and when they do I’ll get around to redesigning this website, with the intention of publishing them here. For now, I’ve some more tea to drink, some locations in Newfoundland to double check, and a table of contents to insert.


Friday, 25 September 2015

Book 3: Family Audiobook out now & Update

Surviving The Evacuation, Book 3: Family is now out in Audiobook from Audible UK, & Itunes. It should be available on Amazon by next week.

More audiobooks will be out in 2016, but I'm putting all my energies into finishing the first book in a new series. Currently titled Strike A Match 1: Serious Crimes (and previously called The Endless Struggle, The World Turns, The More Things Change, Steam Trains and Smart Phones*, World War Tea, & The Coffee War), I'm hoping to start the final draft on Monday.

Set twenty years after competing artificial intelligences almost wrecked the world in their successful attempt to destroy one another, it tells the story of a police cadet and her sergeant, a murder investigation, a counterfeiting ring, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy a struggling democracy.

The ebook of Work. Rest. Repeat. a murder mystery novel set as the last survivors of a ruined Earth finish the colony ships that will allow them to escape to Mars, is currently free, but will be going back to £1.99 at the beginning of next week, so now's the time to grab a copy if you've not already done so.

Amazon UK,, Itunes, Kobo, Nook, Google.

Have a great weekend,


*Steam Trains and Smart Phones is my favourite of the titles so far, but the novel is too serious for that name. I may use it for a series of short stories I plan to accompany this series, but one book at a time...

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Coming soon (why it won’t be Book 8)

(I’ve had to be circumspect here to avoid giving away plot points for Books 1-7)

No matter what I planned for each book, the narrative has taken over, and changed the story completely. Book 2 was meant to be told from Jen’s point of view, Book 3 from Sholto’s. Book 5 was meant to be 60,000 words, and finish with the events that take place at the end of Book 6. I won’t even get into which characters were meant to die but didn’t, nor who did but died.

Book 1 wasn’t meant to be set during the outbreak, but twenty years after. The journal was discovered and presented as evidence during the trial of Jen Masterton, the last remaining representative of the government responsible for the outbreak. In that draft, the author of the journal had no name and no gender (although there was a barman named Sholto who’d come over to the UK just after the outbreak.)

When I wrote the epilogue for Book 7 it originally continued for another 5,000 words. But those words decide the fate of a lot of other characters. Has there been an election on Anglesey? Has Sholto gone back to the US? Have Bill, Kim, and the girls gone with him? Have they received a radio signal from there? I could make an arbitrary decision, but that would set the outcome in stone, and make any more books in the series difficult (and not much fun) to write.

As it stands (and this is the plan I came up with last night, so will probably be scrapped by the time you read this), there will be a prequel book ‘Zero’, beginning in New York, and recording Sholto’s escape from the US. This will be followed by a book (maybe titled ‘Escape’) that will tell the story of a woman he meets just before he leaves The States.

The story in the US will continue with the students who were recording the documentary inside the White House, and so were there to film the President’s last broadcast. (Probably a trilogy, and connected with the US side of the conspiracy.) Meanwhile, in the UK , I’ll tell the story of two American teenagers, in the UK on a school trip and stranded her during the outbreak (and it’s not exactly giving away the farm to say that they have a familial connection with some of the character’s mentioned above). This book/series will be called After The Evacuation and will co-star some of the characters from books 1-7.

Only then will we get to Book 8.*

Which is why I wanted Book 7 to end the way it did, I think it resolves the Nilda/Chester storyline, so if there are no more Evacuation books (for whatever reason), then there aren’t too many threads still left open.

But that’s a lot of writing. Probably another two year’s worth. Books 6 & 7 were written and published in four months. I don’t think I can keep up that pace without taking an occasional break. Instead, I’m going back to my original idea of what life would be like 20 years after the apocalypse. (It’s a high-tech thriller in a low tech-world.) On the other hand, I should have these books ready to be published late autumn, so then I’ll be ready to write some more... well, I won’t make any promises, because, as I’ve said, whatever I plan rarely comes to pass.

Instead, I'll say thank you for reading this far. I hope you've enjoyed the books to date, and I’ll offer you some original art from the new book. (I may use this for the cover. A final decision will be made when I’ve got the series name settled. The book is titled Counterfeit, and the series is titled “The more things change...” (But the series title changes about once a week. So far it’s also been called, World War Tea, The Coffee War, Smartphones and Steam Trains, and The World Turns.)

*unless I change my mind again this evening. Which, if past experience is anything to go by, I probably will.