Out Now In Paperback




Well, it’s finally out in paperback.

I got four review copies nearly a month ago and sent them off to people who’d been involved with the book. Two of them haven’t bothered to read it yet. Thanks guys, glad I bothered sending it. One is still reading it. One I don’t know whether they’ve read it or not because they’ve stopped talking to me. I think they’ve read it and believed it to be a true story. It isn’t. It employs a literary technique what we artists call ‘making things up.’

It’s got three very good reviews so far and it’s also done a strange thing. Two people started sobbing after they read it. They told me it wasn’t because it was so utterly bad that they were weeping out of grief at wasting their time reading it, but neither one can tell me exactly what they were sobbing about. Times past, maybe.

Anyway, if your nose is blocked and you fancy having red eyes you can now go and get your own paperback copy, just like a real book, on paper and everything, thanks to the wonders of Amazon. Just click on the picture and the interweb will take you straight back in time. Sobbing.



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I saw an advert for a writing magazine today, explaining why writers used to use double-spacing on the page.

Maybe I should explain the concept, as it’s so obviously now not what people do, yes dear reader, even me.

It used to mean leaving a blank line between each line you type. In those impossibly far-off days when I learned on my bright orange portable Smith-Corona at the South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education I wanted to be a journalist. Sort-of wanted to, anyway. We had to learn how to type and take shorthand, or at least T-line shorthand. The idea was you typed your stuff out and then somebody else sub-edited it, checking it for spelling, typos, grammer and style. I know, ludicrous over-manning, isn’t it? You can get a machine to do that. Well, you can now. You couldn’t then.

Given that the copy was on bits of paper – and yes, I am aware how much this is coming to resemble something Howard Carter (not to be confused with Howard Jones, which is all too easy to do for someone of my generation) might have deduced in the tomb of Tutankhamun, however it’s said now – someone actually had to take a biro, preferably red, and mark-up the errors in a code of notches and marks that even then went back years. If an extra word was needed say, or the sub thought these three words could be two and needed to be moved the other end of the sentence anyway, he’d – no, wait, honestly – write the words on the paper and maybe draw an arrow to show where they should go. The blank line between the lines gave him somewhere to do it. And yes, subs were almost always men in those days. Crazy times, hey?

After that we all trapped a bison in a pit and went down the pub.

But there was always a double-meaning to writing between the lines. Roy Harper even had an album called In Between Every Line. There was a romance to it, often one you’d sadly read into letters from your old girlfriend at school telling you about a trip to York at the weekend or somewhere equally implausible when you lived in Wiltshire, the reasons for which you didn’t really need invisible ink to work out. There was the spice and danger of No Man’s Land about the between the lines concept too, the haunted place that Biggles and Drummond and countless others found themselves pitched into by accident, stuck between the Hun’s front lines and our own, in the mythical 1916 that clearly still tormented some of the most elderly teachers at school. Some of ours were certainly old enough to have shouldered a Lee-Enfield.

So it was odd, anyway, to see double-space typing being reinvented the same day as the news the Telegraph is to merge with the Sunday Telegraph broke. I don’t really care what happens to the Sunday Telegraph but I do care about the inability of the BBC to report a story without non-sequiturs, or to ask questions that mean anything when they’re clearly being fed nonsense. Perhaps they think it’s impolite these days.

The man from the Telegraph explained it. Or maybe he was a Professor of Journalism, which would make it even more tragic. The two papers are going digital, he said. The Telegraph was one of the first papers to do this, even before the millenium. Ex-pats in Spanish marinas could happily fulminate about Engerlund goindahnvatube without even needing to go and talk to people with dark skins at the newspaper stall.

The Telegraph had found it was stuck with all this expensive kit for printing ink onto paper, presses that cost millions and had a re-sale value of pennies if you could find anybody who wanted one in the first place and had the cranes and lorries and the skills to get it out of the building and re-assembled without reducing it to scrap. So the obvious thing to do is sack some of the editorial staff. Obviously. The people who do the things that the readers actually chose the product for. It’s not that the Telegraph isn’t making a profit. Just not enough profit for the people who own it, so they’re going to get rid of the people who make the customers come and buy it. Sometimes I really wish I’d been to business school, so I could understand this stuff.

The Telegraph will turn into Yahoo! News, a home for the useless, reduced to re-packaging Sky News and anything somebody else did to achieve a homogenised product that will investigate precisely nothing at all but will let you know when Kim Kardashian’s silicon enhancement check-up is due. And it’ll have even more errors, real, basic type-errors, because for some reason it’s almost impossible to check things on screen.

I typed 110,000 words for Not Your Heart Away. I checked it again and again and again. Someone else edited it as well. I ordered some proof copies because I wanted it out as a paperback as well. And that was when I saw the mistakes.

I couldn’t believe it. In some parts of the book there was a mistake on every page. Other places it was fine for ten pages or so, but then the most basic typos would be there again. Two words the same. A word that obviously hadn’t been deleted when two sentences were cut and spliced together.  It re-convinced me that you can’t edit well on screen, however many times you go over it. I think I’ve got them all now. I hope so anyway.

Odd that now everyone uses a keyboard absolutely no-one is taught how to type as part of their elementary education let alone higher studies but as Molesworth used to say, let it pass.


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The Proof Copies Are Here!



They arrived today, thanks to a really fast delivery from UPS. Now I have to sit and read through and shred them to pieces to get rid of any mistakes and clumsy usage that has made it through this far.

Very strange feeling handling these proofs. I like the cover a lot. It comes in at 312 pages and 110,000 words. It’s quite sizeable. Somehow I thought it would print smaller.

But it’s here at last. Now to do the final edits and see what happens.

You can click on the picture to go to the Amazon site for a Kindle copy now. If you want an analog version you’ll just have to wait until they’re proofed. Won’t be long.



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Bring Out Your Goods & Your Chattels

In an hour, the first people are coming to look at buying my house. And if I’m selling the house, downsizing, I might as well sell the furniture as well. Some of it or all of it. There isn’t anything really valuable. The most we ever paid for anything was probably the sofa, which was about £800 and that was a mistake. Next most was my red Bauhaus wardrobe, which was about half that, along with the church pew. The wardrobe lives near Ampthill and seems at home there. The pew, well like some other bits of furniture here, that’s a long and different story.


My partner, significant other, my girlfriend, my ex, my whichever and all of these, lives in flat in a converted church in a Glasgow suburb. We bought the pew together, along with a dainty little chest of drawers and a nice little table. Both of them were pine, nineteenth century, not very valuable but rather nicely, finely done.


I still have the big pine cupboard, the pot cupboard and the mahogany table I bought for my first flat in 1986, twenty-seven years ago. The mortgage would have been all paid off now.  It seems like almost a lifetime ago and for some people I supposed it is. It’s enough time to be a grandparent, without any unseemly haste. I bought all three of these things in a tiny shop on the north side of Upper Street in Islington, a bit east of the Slug & Lettuce, where I always meant to have breakfast on a Sunday but couldn’t afford it. It was the kind of shop you’d never see there now, but all of Islington was a different place in those days. I think they had a single light bulb to light the whole shop, the single left-over tiny room crammed full of solid old furniture, all of it exactly what I needed. A pine cupboard that looked as if it came from a French farmhouse and maybe it did. A solid Victorian table, a little on the small side that was my kitchen table once and my computer table now. A pot cupboard that never really worked out, just a little bit not deep enough to work as a set of shelves with doors to hide them.


The thing is, these things are mine. It’s not just I’ve had them for years. I found these things. I went to the shop, the little lock-up that was squatting in Upper Street before the rents went sky-high, when impossibly enough the landlord couldn’t get anyone to take the retail space near the King’s Head. I’ve moved them around from my flat to north of the park, to Abbots Langley, to Yoxford and now to here in Tunstall. I think I’ll sell the pot cupboard, not before time. Truthfully, the pine cupboard has always been too big for anywhere I’ve ever lived. I’ve never had a French farmhouse. I don’t think I ever will and I certainly don’t have a big van to get it there. It would look better painted, a deep flat red, off-white for the top, rubbed back with steel wool and furniture wax. But that might be for someone else’s life, someone else’s kitchen. I hope they love it too.


That kind of Islington is long gone, the same way I’m long gone from there. I don’t know what happened to those two guys selling really nice furniture, cash only, under their single lightbulb, without a till or even a heater in that tiny windowless shop on Upper Street. Except actually, I do.


Any more for any more?


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UPS & CreateSpace

I sent off the MS of Not Your Heart Away on Tuesday night. Maybe it was Monday. Either way, I thought their idea of delivering a paper proof copy to me by Friday, today, all the way from America to Suffolk was pretty optimistic. I was right. They didn’t do it.

Instead, they sent it via UPS who delivered it yesterday and it wasn’t their fault I wasn’t in. It was wholly my fault I didn’t answer the door this morning, but I was only wearing a dressing gown and trying to concentrate on a TV script I’ve got to finish to first draft by Wednesday week.

Three days, to publish a book in paperback and deliver it 4,000 miles away. It makes traditional publishing schedules look like a bad joke, one Queen Victoria might have been unamused by.

The other good news today was seeing not only that sales on Kindle have actually started, but I also rather more pressingly got the first royalty payments into my bank account. It’s a start.

If you do buy it – and obviously, you should – please leave a review, whatever you think of it.

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On Kindle Now!


Finally, Not Your Heart Away has gone live on Kindle. I’m still waiting for the proofs for the paper edition, which should be with me tomorrow, March 1st, but until then you’ll just have to be digital like Max Headroom for those old enough to remember him. That’s everyone who might or might not recognise an echo of themselves in the book, of course.

So please, if you don’t want to read something by a ghost-writer, if you do want something which isn’t about Agas, failed marriages, the USA or London, you might give this a go.

Half in love with his girlfriend, wholly besotted with someone who isn’t, half obsessional and wholly out of his depth, Ben’s standing on the edge of a cliff he doesn’t even realise is there. But then, so was Claire. The only difference was, she knew it. Click on the picture to get your copy today.

Cafe bar window




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Self-Publishing, Vanity Publishing, Agents and the Press

Last week all of Facebook was treated to the earth-shattering news that Fleet Street Fox had gone to her own book launch and lots of whisky was drunk. Fleet Street Fox, for those who don’t know, is a woman who has a column in the Daily Mirror, who writes occasionally thought-provoking pieces on who said what and what they might have thought about it and whose latter media career is based on a lie. The central conceit is that She Cannot Be Named because she Knows Too Much.

As any good spy knows, the way to maintain anonymity is to publicise your own press launch and make sure your full-face photos go all over the internet. There isn’t even an attempt to say ‘ok, I had to be anonymous before the book came out’. It was just made-up.

The same week I approached a literary agent, one who specialised in fiction. Not ‘my identity has to be kept secret until it doesn’t’ fiction, but literary fiction, a book that didn’t involve me saying how for example, Fleet Street Fox’s ex went off with someone else and how she dealt with it all, with hilarious consequences, but an actual work of fiction, 110,000 words that comprisse Not Your Heart Away.


It’s not in the same league as Jordan’s new work of fiction, obviously, the central fiction there being that Jordan/Katie Price had anything at all to do with writing it. As she said, she doesn’t even read them, let alone hammer the keyboard herself. No, much like AA Gill, who used to claim to be dyslexic, everything said to be written by Katie Price isn’t written by Katie Price. Obviously, post-Blair and the White Queen’s mantra that words mean anything you want them to mean, not actually writing anything doesn’t mean she isn’t an author and shouldn’t be described as one by her agents, publishers and publicists.

The agent I contacted helped explain why traditional print media is dying without mentioning blow-up dolls pretending to write books even once. Have you approached any other agents? Well, you better not have, because we don’t want to waste our time. We want a clear eight weeks to read your stuff. We won’t acknowledge getting your email, because that’s how busy and important we are. In fact, most of our readers are so busy that they aren’t reading anything this year, presumably while they’re finding someone to write Jordan’s stuff for her. If we don’t take your stuff on, we won’t tell you. If we don’t talk to you it means we’re not going to be talking to you.

So let me see if I’ve understood this. I send them my stuff. They don’t say if they’ve got it. If I’ve sent it to anyone else they don’t want to know. If they don’t want to do anything with it they won’t tell me and it’ll be two months before they tell me if they do.

The single word response ‘bollocks’ must spring to many people’s lips. It does beg the question, what are agents for?

The answer isn’t to publish your stuff, because CreateSpace and Kindle and a load of others will do that for you, along with a proper real grown-up ISBN code and a paper proof copy.

There seem to be two Big Questions any aspiring author needs to ask themselves:

Q1) Am I Jordan?

Q2) Have I been on TV lately?

If the answer to both questions is no, don’t bother agents. Meanwhile, does anyone have any ideas why book publishing is suffering? Anyone?


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Well, it’s done. Final edits of Not Your Heart Away are all done, the synopsis is written and it’s off to Jenny Brown, the literary agents. I hope they like it. I can watch The Sweeney on TVCatchup now.

Next, I don’t know. I might write the rather odd story about the things that happened writing the book. On the other hand it would make a decent screenplay, with UFOs, car crashes, 1970s music, the National Front, dope and quite a lot of sex and Lebanonism as well.

On the third hand, I’ve still got an idea about a man who worked in the Twin Towers and went out for a coffee just before they came down.  That one’s been gnawing at me. As someone said at the time, they weren’t all heroes. They can’t all have been missed.






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Not Your Heart Away On Kindle

Just starting to finish editing the Not Your Heart Away MS for Kindle. It’s taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I can’t quite believe I typed that badly. But I also can’t believe Microsoft Word is such a pile of crap that it leaves in things that simply aren’t there on screen. Quite where it gets its ideas about English is something else again.

So what’s it about?

Ben met Claire in the late 1970s, the summer before everyone left for university. And in many ways, that was it. After a magical trip to the theatre Ben discovers she’s about to leave for America, starting a summer job that might just last a lifetime.

After a bohemian week of drifting about London and with the sense of the ice cracking under their feet, Ben comes to realise how much she means to him. And then she disappears.

More than twenty years later Ben thinks he’s found her again, thanks to an old school-friend and a little help from Facebook. But the course of true obsession rarely runs smoothly. Neither does friendship, cars, history, wife-swapping or love. Especially not love.

Haunted by the spires and farms of that summer and the blue remembered hills of Claire’s jeans Ben keeps asking himself the question Bob Marley sang at every party back then. Is this love? Is this love that he’s feeling? He wants to know now. Before it’s too late.


Meanwhile, back to putting in the hyperlinks on the Contents page. Is there any coffee going?

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Stuff to do

Busy day today. Dogs and SO and her daughter all cavorting around the flat at 06:00 in various states of undress. Dogs then decide they need a wee so a quick pyjama clad trip to the back garden, slinging Barbour over tracky bottoms and sliding feet into brown Lobbs as first available footwear.

Have to Kindle Not Your Heart Away and get it out there, coming to think more and more that agents and publishers are soon going to be pretty much the same as chain-mail manufacturers, really skiled craftsmen that nobody really needs any more. Maybe a few beery blokes doing historical re-enactments will be into them.

I don’t like the idea of Googleopoly but like everything else, that’s what people want. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t buy it so apart from getting on the Richard & Judy show I can’t see what agents are now for. All it takes is a phone call and you either believe in it or there’s not much point churning it out.

Talking of which also working on TV version of Not Your Heart Away, which appeals to me greatly. There are some hugely visual elements of it, the UFO, the shipwreck, the car crashes, all of which would make a brilliant film or TV play.

I’ve re-installed my key customer-interfacing first cross-platform social media node, or Tweetdeck as we call it. Take the dogs out, go to Poundshop to buy them a towel because we’re having a big muddy walk later on, get some script down and Kindle publish the finished book MS.

I think it’s as ready as it’s going to be. This time my cross-platformness needs to be more interfacey.


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