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ON WRITING and Brearley’s Encore


ON WRITING and Brearley’s Encore

I was born wanting to make stories out of what went on around me. From the cradle words fascinated me – the sound of them, the meaning of them and the fact that you could make them rhyme. Poetry was my first love, I think because it was the fastest route to doing something with words. I didn’t come from a particularly erudite family, so was rather alone in my love of words. Words for me were a performance thing and although my family were amused by my word-spouting antics, they didn’t take it particularly seriously. In fact, I was often told to pipe down and stop showing off, which did put a bit of a dampener on life for me.

There weren’t a lot of books in our family, but there was music. Pop music. The radio was always on and it was full of what we now call the American song book. And it was the 50s: the great age of popular music, the time before rock. Songs were full of meaning, the lyrics practically always rhymed, or half rhymed, and they nearly always told a story of some sort, usually a love story, but nevertheless a story.

On the banks of the river

Stood Running Bear,

A young Indian brave.

On the other side of the river

Stood his lovely Indian maid.

Little White Dove was-a her name,

Such a lovely sight to see,

But their tribes fought with each other,

So their love could never be.

(1959 JP Richardson aka The Big Bopper)

I was fascinated by ‘maid’ being made to rhyme with ‘brave’ and sang it over and over again. We were living in Northern Ireland at the time and for some reason my twin and I went to a convent junior school. We were the only boys. I sang all over the school and, even though I didn’t have much of a singing voice, I became something of a star. My English teacher, Miss McGoldrick, noticed my love of performing and began to put me forward for poetry recital competitions, most of which I won. It

was she who gave me my first real grounding in poetry, as opposed to song lyrics.

We moved to England and I moved up to secondary school. There was no one there to nurture my love of poetry but I did discover children’s adventure stories. I particularly remember a series of books about the Canadian flying-doctor service. Although I don’t remember the name of the series or it author/s, I remember the stories were full of drama and heroism. I loved them. Then I discovered the Bull Dog Drummond series of spy stories. Bulldog Drummond was a swash buckling hero in a line of comic book-like heroes that led in the end to James Bond and, for me, Dan Brearley, the hero in my book BREARLEY’S ENCORE. I still loved poetry and recited it whenever I could, but I had discovered real adventure and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Before long there were the James Bond films. These introduced me to Ian Fleming and the James Bond novels, which I devoured as quickly as they came out. I read them over and over again. Now fast forward forty years. I found myself living in a formerly very grand hotel which had been converted into apartments. They were sold on long leases, mainly to retired people, but the owner of the freehold remained in situ, taking charge of the day to day management of the building and responsibility for its maintenance. He was not a pleasant man, was less than honest and failed miserably to meet his obligations. The building began to fall into a state of disrepair and life for me and my fellow lessees became less than comfortable. I began to wonder what was to be done about the man. He was not open about his business affairs in general and I began to wonder what he got up to. Then I began to wonder who could find out. A private detective, I thought, or, better still, a super comic book-type hero. A James Bond! What if a retired secret agent were to move into the building? What would such a man do about our rogue landlord? And Dan Brearley was born. I had been writing western novels – the only sort I could get anyone to publish – and it wasn’t much of a leap to start writing a spy story.

I no longer live in the converted hotel mentioned above and I wouldn’t want the owner, who is still in situ, to in anyway think BREARLEY’S ENCORE was about him and his building, but our life’s experiences do sink into our subconscious and inform our artistic creations. My book is really about what could happen to a retired-secret agent, rather than a rogue landlord. Leasehold as a form of residential property tenure is a peculiarly English means of home-buying but it is fraught with problems and lease holders often find themselves living with bad landlords. I wanted in the book to highlight this fact. Changes in property law have tried to alleviate the problems but not with total success, and they are

hard to enforce if you are saddled with a non-co-operative freeholder. I wanted to highlight this fact in my story.

But still I wanted more to write an adventure story. I was writing westerns, they were being published, but their appeal was somewhat limited. I wanted to reach a wider audience. I suppose, given my love of Bulldog Drummond and James Bond as fictional heroes, it was natural that I should follow in their authors footsteps in creating my own fictional hero.

I still recite poetry and sing pop songs but mainly to myself or in the shower, when I know the whole world is listening.


You can download Brearley’s Encore here

Information for authors

Last year Nicole Delacroix let me share some fantastic article she had written about social networking for authors and I’ve just heard she’s put it out as an ebook free for download. If you haven’t caught up with it yet then I strongly recommend you pick it up now.

PDF: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bzi…

KINDLE: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bzi…

EPUB/IPAD: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bzi…


And you can find out more about Nicole Here

Books Vs. E-readers

Books Vs E-Readers – I have to confess I am a lover of both. Here’s Nicole Delacroix to tell you what she thinks. Don’t forget you can share your views in the comments below.



Books Vs. E-readers – will the next generation of children even experience the feel of a good book?


For me, I started my long love affair with the written word when I was still quite young.  One of my most vivid memories is of my mother sitting at the edge of my bed reading me a bedtime story.  I was 3, but her loving voice and the compelling story completely captivated me, and I was officially hooked.  My mother started to teach me to read for myself about this same time and I couldn’t get enough of it.  I remember spending my days in libraries and reading outside.  Sure I had other hobbies, but nothing was better than the weekly trip to the local library to check out a new book.  I remember the day I got my very own library card – I was 9.  It was like a beloved toy or a secret treasure to be awed and relished.

I learned early on that even though a good story could take me on an adventure, finding that perfect book in the library could equal the excitement.  There was nothing like finding a dusty tome hiding away from the world that held a secret world of wonder.  By the time I entered middle school, most of my good memories were tied to books.  By the time I was twelve I had already read most of the literary classics and had settled on Wuthering Heights as my all-time favorite book.    My favorite past time (and most money spent) is browsing book stores.  While the big chains (Barnes & Nobles, Booksamillion) are fine for books en masse, I prefer the little niche stores or even the used book stores (Thank you 2nd and Charles!).  I find myself spending three figures every time I visit and I usually leave with another bag of books that I literally have no place to put them.  (I currently have multiple boxes of books in closets all over my house)

Then the E-reader came along, and being the book snob and elitist I am, I snubbed my nose at it and said “not me, no, never”.  Then a friend and I were planning a life-long trip to London, and suddenly space was an issue (what?  I can’t bring 20 books on the plane?), and I succumbed to the Kindle.  E-readers were still in their infancy, so I have probably the Commodore 64 version, but I digress, I ate my words and bought one.  Suddenly I could take hundreds of books all without having to leave any of my shoes behind, who was the genius that came up with this!  Now I could take as many books as I wanted without limiting my shoe space, but I had to forsake the things I loved most about books, the feel and the smell.

So I recently heard on NPR a discussion about how the next generation will never experience a real book; that technology has taken us past the need for paper and the written word.  I truly believe that there are more people like me; that love that feel of a book and the smell of a dusty library.  That search and scour through bookstore shelves to find just that right book.  It’s our history and that’s worth our respect and preservation.  So if you are part of the newest generation, take my suggestion.  Go find a great bookstore and lose yourself, you may just end up finding yourself.  Enjoy the convenience of your E-reader, but remember a book is meant to be experienced and you can only do that turning the pages of an old dusty tome.

Author Social Media Checklist

A while ago I was doing some promoting on Goodreads and I got talking with amazing author Nicole Delacroix who has written lots of articles offering tips and insights into indie publishing. Nicole very kindly donated the following article on social media which is a must for all newbies. This is an abbreviated article, but I strongly recommend you read the in-depth version too, as well as checking out her site for more tips and ideas. http://nicole-delacroix.com/


Author Social Media Checklist: For in-depth article click here: Author Social Media Checklist

Have you been ignoring social media? Think you don’t have time for it? Or that ‘readers will come if my book is in stores’? Do all the different forms of social media seem overwhelming?

There is so much information but I formulated a quick list of the top items every writer/author should be looking at for Social Media avenues. First thing is decide how much time you are willing to devote to Social Media – and you will have to devote time. But if you can find 2 hours a week, you can start to build a long lasting platform.

This list is by no means all that’s available; I isolated the most important and most influential ones to start. These are listed in order of importance – based on my opinion only – but again, every platform is different. You have to decide which avenues are right for you and your message.

  • Personal Website: This is the number one – absolute MUST HAVE for social media.  Whether you blog or not, you must have your own corner of the World Wide Web for readers and fans to find you.  Remember – your personal website is the CENTER of your Universe. All of your other social media sites should reflect and always point the reader back to your site. For in-depth article click here:  Personal Website
  • goodreads.com: Goodreads is a social channel that is perfect for authors! Recently acquired by Amazon.com, the site was designed by readers for readers. If you haven’t already joined, run to your computer now – go on… I’ll wait – you can join even if you haven’t published yet. For in-depth article click here:  Goodreads
  • facebook.com: Facebook is the King of social media. If you’re serious about having a career as a writer, you must have a Facebook Author Page where fans can “LIKE” your page and keep up with your events. It’s critical to keep your fan page updated with fun information to keep your readers engaged and anticipating your next book. For in-depth article click here:  Facebook
  • twitter.com: If Facebook is the King, then Twitter is the Queen. Twitter is especially helpful to authors as it helps you connect with your readers and other authors around the globe. Twitter can connect you with the greatest minds in publishing, writing, editing and marketing. For in-depth article click here: Twitter

Lastly, a few key points to remember when formulating your social media plan and especially, once you’ve implemented it.

  1. Social Media sites are a collection of parties. No matter how savvy you are, social media is like a party. Make sure you understand the rules of the party before you start a conversation or you could end up with egg on your face.
  2. Have a clear goal and plan for each Social Media channel. Don’t join a site just to say you have Social Media. Have a plan and a purpose.
  3. Patience Grasshopper. Don’t expect to sign up on a site and everyone on that site wants to be your friend. You need to put forth the effort to attract the right Above all else, never, and I mean NEVER buy followers. It’s cheap, dishonest, and it doesn’t get you actual readers or fans.
  4. Don’t focus on building an audience. I know, you just went, “what?!” I say that to mean, focus on giving value to the people that already follow you, you will attract more people like that if you do. That’s the audience you want – people who truly want to hear what you’re saying.
  5. Cultivate your mailing list. Encourage your followers on all your social media sites to join your mailing list. This is where your blogging becomes important, because your blog is personal, and your fans want to be a part of your world.
  6. Be everywhere. I know I just finished saying don’t join every site, and that’s still true, but what I mean is that you want to claim your “names” and any variation of them as a form of protection. That way your fans always know you’re in control: control your name and your brand.
  7. Quality. No matter what, make sure you’ve given your absolute 100% best quality on everything you do. You control how your readers perceive the message – make sure they want to come back for more.
  8. Schedule. Whatever time you have decided to allocate to Social Media, make sure you have a set schedule.
  9. Define your message. Make sure no matter what, you control the message that is sent to your readers. There is nothing worse for a fan then when they think they are talking to the author and find out it’s only some web administrator with no access. Treat your readers like they deserve to be treated and you will have a fan base filled with loyal readers who can’t wait for your next book.

I hope this has helped you start to focus where you want to take your Social Media plans in the future, I know I’ve given you a lot to think about.  I’ve provided links to all the in-depth articles for more information so if you have any questions or comments between now and then, please send me a comment.  I will try to answer you as quickly and completely as I can.


Okay so be honest how many of these are you doing right? I think, now at least, I’m ticking off 100% but it isn’t easy and every now and again I like to refresh this article whenever I feel like the world wide web is derailing me slightly. If you do get chance please go over to Nicole’s site, it’s a great place to post questions and connect with a really wonderful author with a great attitude when it comes to indie publishing. Tell her I said ‘hi’.