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Tuesday 23 June 2015

Monday 15 June 2015

Normal service will resume in a while...

Sorry there are no new posts, but we have visitors from UK...

Normal service will resume sometime early July!

Friday 12 June 2015

Three crime titles - killer bargains!

Publisher Crooked Cat is promoting three crime titles this week, beginning today:

... the first in an ongoing popular series

A LIMITED JUSTICE by Catriona King
... the first in a popular series set in Northern Ireland

SPANISH EYE by Nik Morton (who he?)
22 short cases from half-English half-Spanish private eye Leon Cazador, 'in his own wrods'

Monday 8 June 2015

Writing - 'The pen conveys...'

During my research for Cataclysm (set mostly in China [but also Tenerife, Madrid and Rome]), I discovered a few interesting quotations – none of which I’ve used in the book.

But they may be interesting to readers and writers – or not...

Certainly, the old fellow Anonymous has the most attributed to him; he must have been very busy.


Procrastination is the thief of time – Anonymous

 The cure of ignorance is study, as meat is that of hunger – Anonymous

The difficulty is not in reading books, but in applying the truths to life, and the greatest difficulty is in remembering them – Chang Chao

In making a candle we seek for light; in reading a book we seek for reason: light to illuminate a dark chamber, reason to enlighten a man’s heart – Anonymous

The pen conveys one’s meaning a thousand miles – Anonymous

It is more profitable to reread some old books than to read new ones, just as it is better to repair and add to an old temple than to build an entirely new one – Chang Chao

The benefit of reading varies directly with one’s experience in life. It is like looking at the moon. A young reader may be compared to one seeing the moon through a single crack, a middle-aged reader seems to see it from an enclosed courtyard, and an old man seems to see it from an open terrace, with a complete view of the entire field. – Chang Chao

And… a general quotation:

He who has never tasted the bitterness of life has never known the sweetness of it all – Anonymous



Saturday 6 June 2015

Blank day, blank page... almost

I had hoped to post another of my previously published short stories, but alas there are not enough hours in today to manage that...

Anyone new arriving at this blog, please search for 'Saturday Story' and you'll find about sixty or so stories to read at your leisure and (hopefully) pleasure...!. 

For regular readers, my apologies!

PS - I'm halfway through a 'final' re-read of my latest manuscript Cataclysm. More of which, anon. (Why is 'final' in quote marks? Because it's never final...)

Hope you have a good weekend!

Friday 5 June 2015

FFB - Post Mortem

In 1994, when I read this first outing (1990) of Chief Medical Examiner of Richmond, Virginia, Dr Kay Scarpetta, I couldn’t have known that there would be 23 books in the series (and still counting), the latest being Depraved Heart (2015).

Scarpetta is also a lawyer and a consultant for the FBI. The books are littered with all sorts of fascinating behind the scenes forensic activity, anticipating the successful TV series C.S.I. by ten years. So if you’re into such things as analyzing photos, evidence samples, and the study of the time of death, you’ll enjoy a lot of the detail that goes into the development of Scarpetta’s investigations. As the series progresses, Scarpetta builds up a number of intriguing relationships: her niece Lucy, an FBI intern , Benton Wesley a FBI colleague and romantic interest, and Pete Marino a detective, among others.

Post Mortem concerns a serial killer who is on the loose, three women having been brutalised and strangled in their bedrooms, the deaths particularly gruesome. While Detective Marino comes across as a bit of a slob, there grows between him and Scarpetta a mutual respect as they begin to hunt down the killer. The wealth of detail about the pathologist’s research is never heavy-handed, the supplemental characters are interesting, and Scarpetta’s humanity well matches Marino’s cynicism. To compound matters, she has to combat male chauvinism and, worse, somebody has broken into her office computer system and she is being blamed for leaks to the press!

Suspenseful and well written. By now of course Cornwell is a legend among crime writers. This is where it all began.

PS – I never knew she was a descendant of abolitionist and writer Harriet Beecher Stowe (source: Wikipedia).

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Writing - editing - work in progress progresses - 3

Penultimate pass of the text of Cataclysm is done. The word repetitions have been addressed; that took about eight hours, all told. In the same process, of course, text is altered and improved.

a few other repeated words not on yesterday's least:


Two more final read-throughs and doubtless some tweaking...

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Writing - Editing tip - Work in progress progresses – 2

Catalyst - #1 in the 'Avenging Cat' series

It’s that time again. My next novel Cataclysm, #3 in the ‘Avenging Cat’ series, is completed, and the self-edit is ongoing, prior to it being vetted by Jennifer, my wife, before being sent to the publisher, Crooked Cat.

Part of that self-edit process involves tackling word-repetitions. Some are word-echoes, repetitions that occur more than once often in the same page, while others are simply examples of lazy writing that needs livening up.

The repetitions I’ve identified by using the Word search are shown below. I’ve started work on these; some have been reduced in number already (see brackets); be wary of replacing one repetition with another, however!

Smiled – 23 (9)

Nodded – 48 (18)

Laughed – 8 (this is good, I made a conscious effort while writing to avoid using this!) (3)

Grinned – 14 – (not bad, either) (6)

Sighed – 4 (again, I was on the look-out for this so they are few) (3)

Looked – 26 (22)

Moment – 37 (11)

Glanced – 40

Few – 40

Down – 58

Up – 145 (horrendous! Search entails a space in front of and after this word)

Out – 142 (same applies as above…)

Back – 72 (ditto)

Just – 36 (I tried to avoid using this word so much, will definitely excise most)

Called – 34

Saw – 19

Walked – 37

Ran – 32

Pointed – 22

Suddenly – 5 (not bad, but probably too many)

Seemed – 49

Felt – 52

Thought – 49

Though – 30 (I've noticed in other books that sometimes this is used when the writer meant 'thought')

Shrugged – 14 (again, while writing I tried to avoid using this, but it can still be reduced)

Stepped – 46 (surprised at this, but this number will get reduced)

Turned – 75 (far too many!)

Shook – 33

What’s the point of all this?  Often, the repeated word (and its associated phrase) is redundant. And tidying up at this stage can improve the narrative flow.
The above list shows those words I’m familiar with in the repetition stakes; there may be others, of course, and hopefully they will come to light in the final re-read.


Monday 1 June 2015

Writing – market - Every dog has its day

Wikipedia commons - dog-dept defense

You’d be barking mad not to attempt this …

A free-to-enter short story competition is being run by Ouen Press (that’s pronounced W-On).

Deadline 15 July 2015


Working Dogs Short Story Competition

First prize £300

2 x Runners up £100 each

Highly Commended entries recognised

Entries by email only.

Word-count – ‘no less than 2000 words and no more than 8000 words excluding the title and word-count.’

The full rules are in the website:

Here is an extract:

‘The subject matter of the short story must be fictional, involving a dog or dogs in any ‘working’ situation, at any time or in any place…  For the purposes of this competition the term ‘working’ will be viewed by the judges in the widest possible sense related to the setting or context of the dog’s activity or activities in the story submitted.

‘Entrants must be over the age of 18 at the closing date for entries.
‘Authors may be of any nationality living in any country.

‘Only one entry per author.

‘Submissions must be original, completely the author’s own work and must not have been published in any format previously. The submitted short story must not have been awarded any prizes or commendations. No third party shall have been granted any licence or other rights to the submitted short story.’

Good luck!