Tag Archive: samples

Guest post: Mike Rose-Steel

Morning all

This week’s guest-blog is from the desk of the inestimable Mike Rose-Steel, philosopher-poet, proofreader extraordinaire and many other pertinent things starting with p. He has kindly left with me for your delectation a small slice of personal abuse and three of his carefully sculpted poems… so read, enjoy and remember, never trust a man who can use the word “poikilothermic” in anger. I’m talking to you, Mr Rose-Steel.

Blog follows:


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Hi folks,

thanks very much to Josie for inviting me to fill in a blank space on her blog.

I’m writing this at my desk at home when I should be in my office, because the accelerator pedal on my car fell off this morning, half way up the A30.  This is normally considered to be a bad thing for pedals to do, so I have decided not to drive the car anywhere again for the time being.  This is probably a suspiciously neat metaphor for life, at some level.

I’m Mike, I mostly write poetry and short stories, and split my time between proof-reading, editing, office work, philosophy research and any other activities I can do without having to stand up.  I’ve been published occasionally (partly because I’m very lazy about sending things off), but unfortunately the marvellous Heaventree Press, in Coventry, don’t appear to have a functioning website at the moment, so I can’t link to them.  If you are in Coventry, check out their open mic nights at the Tin Angel – a really friendly, cosy event.

To fill up the remainder of this post, I’ve included three poems suitable to Josie’s general way of doing things.  Two of these were sparked by Josie sending me a random set of instructions on poems to write, so she is at least in part to blame for them.

If you want to play the game yourself (and why not post the results?) here are the restrictions that applied to each (you will notice that I have broken at least some of the rules, because police enforcement in these matters is notoriously inefficient):

On Rough Tor – write a 12 line poem, rhyming ABAB etc, on the theme of someone being in a field in the very early morning and the reader not knowing why they are there.  Mention Last of the Summer Wine.

In the waiting Room – Write a poem that includes the word “formication” (the condition of sensing or imagining that insects are crawling about under your skin) – one of Josie’s favourite words to mumble in the company of strict moralists – employing half-rhyme and at least one stanza break.  Must feature a famous TV naturalist.

Have fun!  I hope this helps you to survive during the dark night of the soul that is Josie’s temporary absence.  I am assured that this is her only seal clubbing expedition of the year, so normal service should be returned and maintained shortly.  Hand-made mittens for sale by mail order, usual contact details apply.  Wishing you an excellent weekend,

Mike Rose-Steel

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The trouble with not liking spiders

is that they creep up on you like




                                legs made of

needles and rust.


If spiders were as big as elephants,

you could look them in the eye

and ask them to stop skirting about

in such a shifty manner.  You could say

“Why are you always running everywhere?

Why not slow down and enjoy the scuttle?”


But because spiders are made

of coal dust and coat-hanger shavings,

everything they see is a delirious dream

dreamt eight times, reflected in a fairground mirror.


The whole world wobbles

and blows bubbles on itself

when spiders try to look it in the face,

as if it were floating away, laughing itself apart

on a joke

with a terrifying punch-line.


So spiders don’t want to stop and chat.

They swoosh past sofas and carpets and wellington boots

and only glance at them

out of the corners of their eyes,

in case a chair lollops across the room and eats itself.


Being a spider is very hard work

and they never wear hats

because hats fly off when you run,

or knock against the ceiling where you are creeping

through narrow cracks in the floorboards.


And that’s why they coruscate about the place

as if planning to jump down your collar



and are never civilised company.

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In the Waiting Room


Full to his belly in twittering hairs

Our David is covering himself in scratches,

Red and long and straight, like a plough

Making its blind way north and south.

It itches, under thick skin and arms like branches

Cracking bones and sneaking in between each breath:

Ants! What if they make it into your brain?


Two nervous people sit watching this strange dance

In which David’s partner swims unseen

Out of pores and into the fatness of his eyes.

Night terrors, in a blue bright sky, his screams

Scatter like buttons across the emptying room.


= = = =

On Rough Tor


I am trapped in a tutu, heavy in fur and grasping a banana.

I am alone in wet grass, on a cold moor morning, getting far

down into my primitive soul.  The world is slush, slush,

a grey formless skein, unravelling into the empty hush.


This is the worst maze yet devised; it has no walls, no bars,

and I have a string to follow that leads into the murk and briars

tied to my left shoe – a loose unbinding messenger cut mute

by distance and my blank memory.  I am overheated in this monkey-suit.


I am left no bone but to follow the string, walk its wet path

in slippers of mud, hearing my own breath, rounding on air

and hope not to meet the Devil on the way, his weak eerie laughs

like dead balloons, skittled by an east wind, drowning on air.


= = = =

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So there you have it! Thanks to Mike for his word-smithery, to you lot for dropping by, and watch this space for news of next week’s blog; in the coming weeks we hope to have guest-blogs from writers Lisa Hinsley and Mary Maguire, along with playwright Julia Lee Dean, among others.

In the meantime, take care, have a great weekend – and do drop by again next week!



Hi all:

This week I’ve been lucky enough to be able to show you an extract of The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters

by Barbara Silkstone.

I’ve read this book myself, and was much entertained by the updating of the Alice-in-Wonderland premise into modern gangster-ridden Miami – can recommend, especially to John Cleese fans who will empathise with Alice’s quest for her very own personal Cleese-alike….

Secret Diary is available from Amazon for the princely sum of 69 of your English pence – and if you enjoy it, don’t forget to leave a review – helps other readers know you liked it, and tells Barbara what you thought worked!

Have a good weekend, all, and watch this space for hints on who will be guesting here next week…


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The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three quarters

The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters

            ~ Thursday May 13


Alice had never been in a court of justice before, but she had read about them in books,  and she was quite pleased to find that she knew the name of nearly everything there. That’s the judge,” she said to herself…



7:00 a.m.  “The condemned ate a big breakfast,” I told myself while I prepared a mushroom omelet. It tasted of England and made me think of Nigel and the fun times. A tear found its way into my left eye.

I washed down the last of the egg with strong coffee. “Here I come, Leslie.” I was wearing my black suit with pencil straight skirt, the collar of my gold satin blouse just showing at the neckline. My hair was pulled back in a serious black barrette and I kept my makeup to a minimum. I looked very lawyerly. I kissed a sleeping Lily and whispered “later” to Dana. I left to face Leslie and his goons knowing what had happened to Sunglasses could be my fate as well.

8:30 a.m.  A power surge went through me when I entered the courtroom. Maybe it was the Xanax kicking in or was it the mushrooms in the omelet? I looked over my right shoulder at Leslie’s lawyers; they were edgy waiting for their boss to arrive.

The courtroom was larger than I expected. It was all polished wood and money-green carpet – a theater of theatrics. My table was on the left side of the room. Leslie’s gang had the table on the right.

Ron looked hunky as he carried my set of exhibit books and laid them down on our table. There were four evidence books from opposing counsel. Each book weighed at least fifteen pounds and was full of stuff and nonsense designed to overwhelm me with useless paper work. I was thankful for his moral support and grateful for his physical strength. I could never have carried the books from my car into the courtroom in one trip.

I smiled at Ron using the eye contact for an excuse to sneak another look at Leslie’s team. Opposing counsel’s table was every bit as large as ours and crowded with disheveled lawyers. Yuck. Surely Leslie could have done better. His lead gun, Dallas Little, was the only one of the pack who dressed with any style.

George Glick was hired by Leslie to represent Algy Green. Glick weighed in at over three hundred pounds. His coat failed to button by at least a foot, and it was too short to cover his rump. Whenever he bent over, which was frequently, his trousers wedged into his butt cheeks.

“Glick is clueless. They call him Bubba,” Ron whispered to me.

Bubba? Marisol-of-the-gold-teeth dated a married lawyer called Bubba.

8:55 a.m.  Leslie arrived, wearing a suit that must have cost ten-thousand dollars. He still looked awful. The jacket hung on his bony frame. Crime or Metamucil, something was draining him. He walked over to me. “I hear you’re without a lawyer,” he smirked.

I forced a confident smile. “I know what you did.”

Leslie blanched and turned away.

“What are they writing?” said Alice.

“Why they’re putting down their own names,

in case they forget them before the trial is over.”



9:00 a.m.  A bell rang and Leslie moved to his seat. The bailiff called the Court to order and the judge entered. We all stood.

The judge was female, about fifty-five, with a stubby body. She wore a long white wig like the judge in Alice in Wonderland. Bum luck pulling a lady-judge. I’ve learned that women are usually less compassionate with other women. She wasn’t going to be sympathetic to my flights of fancy. The worst part was she was probably in Leslie’s pocket.

As I slipped into position at our table my straight skirt rose up my legs. I tugged at the hem catching my bracelet on my pantyhose at mid-thigh. I struggled to free the gold links from the tougher than steel fibers of my run-resistant hose. My every movement succeeded in tangling me with myself. My right wrist felt permanently attached to my right thigh eight inches short of being obscene.

As the true horror of my situation sank into my brain, I watched the lawyers take turns going up to the podium to announce their names and whom they represented. Dallas Little was attorney for Leslie Archer. Glick waddled up to the stand, “George Blackstone Glick for the plaintiff, Algernon Green” he said in a big, booming voice.

“And for the Defense?” the judge asked.

I was sweating. I couldn’t stay in my seat. You had to walk up and announce yourself. I edged out of the chair bent over, hobbling, wrist on thigh, and skirt way up where it shouldn’t have been. I tried to act as professional as I could under the circumstances. I flashed the judge a self-deprecating smile.

“Alice Harte. I am here today in my own defense, Your Honor. I am pro se.” I couldn’t reach the microphone on the podium, so I spoke as loudly as I could considering my face was on my stomach.

The courtroom was silent; you could have heard a lawyer drop.

The judge looked flabbergasted. “Are you mocking me?” she snapped.

“Your Honor I have a problem. May I go behind the bench?”

“The correct terminology is ‘May I approach the bench?’”

I hunched forward, pigeon stepping toward her. There were twitters of laughter in the courtroom. The judge banged her gavel. “Silence.  Ms. Harte if you are attempting to make a mockery of this court, I will not take it lightly. Now straighten up.”

The judge’s bench was a good three feet taller than my head. I waddled as close as I could and mouthed the words ‘Panty hose are stuck.’ She didn’t get it.

I figured if I could get behind the judicial platform I could take off my panty hose and roll them up with the bracelet and be done with it. The bailiff was one step behind me as I slipped around the bench and under the judge’s chair. I guessed he’d never seen anyone act that way in court before because he stood there dumbstruck and then broke into gales of laughter. The spectators joined him. The noise was so loud the judge’s gavel-banging couldn’t be heard. It was twenty minutes before they all got quiet and I felt secure enough to walk out from under the judge’s chair. I did so with all the dignity I could muster. I pretended I was Joan of Arc going to the stake.

“We will recess while the court regains its composure. Ms. Harte, I trust this is not a sign of things to come. I will not tolerate tomfoolery.”

I sat down next to Ron. “Ricky…”

“Welcome back, Lucy.”

The judge trounced back into her chambers with Dallas Little at her heels.

I turned to face a courtroom of laughing faces. The joke was on me. So far things were not going as smoothly as I had hoped.

10:00 a.m.  Thirty minutes later the judge popped back in the courtroom with no further mention of my pantyhose debacle.

The roll call of witnesses was announced. My witness list was small. Ron would be my character witness. Salli would testify to Leslie’s style of doing business. My heart froze when I heard Nigel’s name pronounced. I held no hope for his appearance. The last name on the list was my own. I would have a chance to speak my mind and clear my name.

Glick placed a revised copy of their witness list in front of me.

“Elizabeth Channing? What does she have to do with this?” Her name was two lines down from the top of the page.

“Object,” Ron whispered.

“She could actually work in my favor. ‘The Mad Woman of the Mail Slot’ might ruin their case.”

Algy Green’s name was called out. I scanned the room to see if he was there. I was looking for super-glued ears and talcum powdered hair.

Glick jumped up. “Your Honor, Mr. Green is obviously the witness coming from the furthest distance since he is coming from London. If I may ask, Your Honor, if it is possible to work around his limited schedule?”

“Within reason, Mr. Glick, can you give me a time frame to work with?”

“Yes, Your Honor, he will be here at two this afternoon. He has to fly back to England on a four o’clock flight, Your Honor.”

“He’ll be on the stand for less than an hour? That’s perfect. Ms. Harte, do you have any objection to allowing Mr. Green’s testimony this afternoon?”

I composed myself and walked to the podium. “Your Honor, I do object. I haven’t been allowed to depose Mr. Green. I have no idea what his testimony will be. That’s not fair.”

“It’s much too late for fairness, Ms. Harte.” The judge smiled. “Discovery is over.”

“But I never had a chance. Dallas Little and Mr. Glick ignored my requests. I’ve filed a Motion to Dismiss because they – opposing counsel – won’t cooperate with me.”

“I haven’t seen your Motion to Dismiss.”

“Well, I filed it with the court, Your Honor,” I extended my arms palms up in the air and shrugged.

“Well, I can’t find it… dear,” the judge said sarcastically then turned to Bubba. “Mr. Glick, are you confident you can complete your questioning in that time?”

“I see no problem, Your Honor.”

“And what about Elizabeth Channing?  At what time do you expect her?”

“I believe she will be arriving at the same time, Your Honor, but she is more flexible. She’ll be available all week.”

“Oh, great,” I whispered to Ron. “The stalking starts again.”

The judge smiled malevolently, overruled my objection and called for the first witness.

Little stood and cleared his throat. “We call Leslie Archer.”

Leslie walked to the witness stand looking like a salamander, his large pale eyes rotating in his skull. He was sworn in and we were underway.

“Explain your business with Alice Harte,” Little prompted.

“Alice Harte entered into a contract with Archer Resorts to sell golf course villas. She tried to walk away from our agreement.”

“And she is guilty of?”

“Alice Harte conspired with Nigel Channing, her boyfriend, to commit a fraud. She passed herself off as the owner of my property, Lizard Links, and sold it to Algernon Green. She kept the deposit money in the amount of five hundred thousand dollars.”

Dallas Little grasped his throat theatrically. “Five hundred thousand dollars.”

Leslie glared at me. “When this trial is over, I’m going to seek criminal charges against Ms. Harte.”

“Your witness, Ms. Harte,” Dallas Little said.

I rose and walked to the witness stand. Leslie tried to break me with his eyes. I stared back at him for all I was worth. I was a flower in the center of a hurricane. I felt strangely calm as if I’d taken one too many Xanax. I just didn’t give a fig anymore.

Laydeeez and gentlemen, I give you:


Yup – we are live on Smashwords! And if you get there before the end of Saturday it’s still part of Read An Ebook Week which means that if you input the voucher code you find on the page there you can download it for free!

Amazon uploads are still a work in progress due to the whimsical nature of constructing the files for the active toc. Toc, for the uninitiated, is short for Table Of Contents but while there will be one at the front of the book which is part of the file, the active toc is a separate file written in html but saved with an .ncx extension (I did know what it stood for but I forget). This file allows you to tab through the book with the 5-way button on the Kindle, so that if you want to check something in the last chapter, you hit the button and it jumps back to the chapter’s first page. It is useful surprisingly often and Amazon guidelines now state that their ebooks should have one. 

This is fine except that adding one is quite finicky, and altering the two other files to tell them how to use it – well, that’s proving so tricky that so far the conversion has been done and deleted six – yes SIX times over! Turns out it doesn’t like spaces in file names though, so hopefully this time it might work better….

So: for non-Kindle readers and those who want to read it on their PC, go have a look at Smashwords because until Saturday it’s yours for free!

For those of a more Kindlish persuasion, there is a file on there that you can read, but if you want to wait for the Amazon version you’ll have a tab-able version with the all-new and improved TOC. Hopefully should be early on next week or in about 3 weeks’ time according to where you are in the world (different iterations of Amazon); but watch this space and I’ll keep you posted!

PS as soon as I have a mo I’ll make an extra page for O-D-S where all the relevant links can go – but you KNOW I’ll be rambling on about it all over the blog in the meantime….

Have a great weekend!


During the course of my edits, I have had to cut various parts of “On Dark Shores”, not because they weren’t good enough to go in, but because they were flashbacks or other backstory. In most cases leaving them in slowed the story down and, as my editors pointed out, the important bits could better be told in a few sentences that kept up the pace. Although I think both editors were right, knowing a bit of the backstory might enrich the novel for you, so rather than throw them away, it occurred to me that I could do a quick edit myself and post them up by way of a taster of the story and an introduction to some of the characters; however, do be aware that  these are the bits that have NOT been curated by editors / proof-readers and beta-readers – just myself!

“On Dark Shores” Sample 2

The following snippet was initially the opening of the whole book;  the first 5 paragraphs in italics (up to the = line) are actually the very first half-page that I wrote, the initial download of that sense of desolation and sadness with which I woke up one day in 2002 after a nameless dream. It’s probably a bit adjective-heavy as in its original incarnation I was intending to make it a poem, but it just wouldn’t play. It knew it wanted to be a story long before I gave up trying different line-breaks!

In the finished version this is all boiled down to about 4 paragraphs and comes a bit further into the text, but for curiosity value I thought you might like to see the initial download and subsequent expansion.  Compare and contrast to the new and improved beginning a couple of posts ago, and see what you think….


PS (It’s not all this bleak, I promise! …er, don’t think it is, anyway…)


It was raining hard. The sky was grey, grey, always grey, it seemed to her as she made her way wearily through the muddy alleyways. It had been a long day. For all that Copeland told her, for all that she’d been stealing for him since she was barely grown, she’d been brought up honest and she was quite sure she’d never stop hating it. If it wasn’t that she had to keep Mary and herself somehow she’d run away tomorrow, she told herself; but these days she didn’t even believe that any more. They were stuck, the two of them, and there didn’t seem to be any way out. The weeks and months all blurred into each other  until the only point of reference in the whole year was –

She stopped suddenly. It was today: eleven years ago today it had happened, and she had not been up to the cliff-top yet. How could she have forgotten? She made her way down the spray-slick stairway which led down to the beach.

Mary would have already been there. Her sister never forgot, though she had been too young to remember anything of that terrible day and the bewildering slide from their old life into this desperate, scrambling existence.

She bent to pick up two smoothed stones, each the size of a fist and varnished with water. As she straightened, a memory seized her; of standing here a little while after it happened, bewildered by the speed with which all the mainstays of her life had been swept away. She remembered…

 …Normally this was the height of the kindly summer which warmed these temperate parts; but not this year. This summer had seen one of the most terrible storms in living memory; and then rain, and rain. Only once in a while came a dry day, and those were wind-bitten and desolate as dust and old bones.

The wind mourned along the beach, quiet but chill enough that she shivered under the old woollen shawl she wore. The grey waves spilled over into hissing spray, the pebbles rolling and receding as if they were determined to gnaw away all the land until the world was washed clean of it, and only restless water remained; until all was silent except for the ocean’s ceaseless whispers…

She wondered what it would be like to swim out into the shifting sea, past the harbour walls and the little scatter of rocks out in the bay; to be washed away by the currents until the tall crags behind her sank beneath the horizon, and all her world was wide flat sky, the unknown depths gaping unseen beneath her, and the pale speck of her face, lost and insignificant in the vast bleak endless waters. She shivered at the thought.

They said that drowning was an easy way to go; but it haunted her, the thought of swimming out, far past returning, and then at the very last having doubts and trying to fight hopelessly back to life, against an unforgiving sea.

A shock of cold dragged her back to herself. She found she had moved right to the water’s edge, and as she stood, another wavelet threw chill tendrils around her toes. She jumped back then, shaking her foot as if to rid it of something unclean. There was nothing more to be done here. The water was seeping through the worn sole of her shoe, and she was cold; not just her feet or her hands, but cold through and through, cold and tired and dead and empty.


All that was left now was to go back; but back to what? A bare house, stripped of furniture and  memories; not even to be theirs any longer if Uncle Copeland had any say in the matter. Which he did. After her parents’ death, Uncle Copeland had arrived to “sort out their business interests” and now he said that they had no money left, though where it had all gone she did not know.

At first he had got rid of the servants and sold off all the horses in the stable, and then odd bits of land they had owned, followed by piece after piece of furniture until the house was empty; and still they seemed to have no money. Now Uncle Copeland said there was no point having a whole house in the best part of town just for two children. And really, he had added, at fifteen she was too old to be considered a child now.

She was not sure what he had meant her to do, but if nothing else there was always Mary, only four years old and unable to understand what had happened., Mary was the one thing that could never be taken from her, she had sworn it by everything she held dear; for now there was no-one to take care of them except Uncle Copeland…

She sighed. That sort of reminiscence did no good; the only difference that eleven years had made was that now even the house had been sold. She was standing in the downpour like a fool. Following in the steps of her past,  she walked wearily back up through the town; but where her memory-self went along the wide gracious street that led to what had been the family townhouse, she turned aside to climb the worn and crumbling path up to the cliff top. There she made her way between the cairns, some old and overgrown, others new and bare, to a place a little apart from the rest. There along the neat line of mounds she came to that familiar one, large enough not for two bodies but for the memories of those two. There were already two pebbles added to the cairn; Mary had not forgotten.

Silently she stacked her own alongside them, and paused a moment; but there was nothing to be said, no memories which had not been leached of colour and joy by the past eleven years, and so with nothing more than a brief nod, she left the cliff top and turned towards home.

“On Dark Shores” Sample 1….

Morning all!

During the course of my edits, I have had to cut various parts of “On Dark Shores” because they were flashbacks or other backstory. In most cases leaving them in slowed the story down and, as my editors pointed out, the important bits could better be told in a few sentences that kept up the pace.

Although both editors were right, knowing a bit of the backstory might enrich the novel for you so rather than throw them away, it occurred to me that I could do a quick edit myself and post them up by way of a taster of the story and an introduction to some of the characters; however, do be aware that  these are the bits that have NOT been curated by editors / proof-readers and beta-readers – just myself!

Correspondingly, (and hopefully for your pleasure) here is the first of  the samples. As always, all comments welcome!



“I’m sure you see my problem,”  Copeland drawled, toying with the papers on his desk. “If I let you have more time to pay the money back word would get around, and every ne’er-do-well in town would be begging for the same. It would be very bad for business.”

“Sir, I’m not one that finds it easy to beg, but if you say so, I’ll beg. My cargo was ruined in the great storm, when some fool of a sailor left the hatches open.”  Striding over to the window, agitated, the Captain did not see the smirk which passed across the moneylender’s face. “Please, let me have more time. If you take my ship my son and I will be without a home, without a livelihood and without honour. The Black-Eyed Susan is my life; I’ve sailed in her forty years, man and boy. My son was born aboard her and my wife, God rest her soul, died there not three days ago.” He turned back stiffly. “I’m begging you, sir; give me a little more time. I’ll pay whatever you ask….”

Copeland was not listening to the Captain; he was picturing the Black-Eyed Susan. The ship was sleek and fast and, with his own man at the helm, would pay him well for all the trouble to which he had gone to get hold of her….

The silence grew. Captain Vansel’s face was gaunt with grief and loss; anxiously running one hand through his greying hair, only iron self-control kept him going. The doctor had sworn that a very expensive treatment would cure his wife’s illness; that the treatment had failed so spectacularly was incomprehensible to the Captain – though less so to Copeland  who had suggested the scheme in the first place.

“My dear Captain, if you didn’t want to part with the boat, you shouldn’t have put her up as security for the loan. Your allotted time is up; give me the money or leave at dawn tomorrow. Those were my terms, and as you have failed to make your payments you leave me no choice.”  He opened a drawer, took out a penknife and began to pare his nails. “Are you still here, Captain? I do assure you, there’s nothing further to be said.”

“Mr Copeland… another month… a week… I beg of you…”

“Blakey!” The door opened to reveal a bear of a man. “Ah, Blakey, the good Captain here was just leaving. Until dawn, Captain.”

“No, Copeland! My ship! My good name! Not for my sake, but my son’s, I beg you -”

“What ship? What good name?” Copeland enquired smoothly. “You forget yourself, Captain; as of five minutes ago you’re possessed of neither.”

“You leech! You damned-”

Copeland returned to his tattered leather chair as the Captain’s voice broke off into an abrupt hiss of breath. Another day, tediously like every other. It would be refreshing to have someone actually pay the whole sum on time for once; still, though novel, it would hardly be profitable. No, these tedious little scenes were simply another part of his everyday affairs, and the price of his occupation.

He paused to listen. The Captain, if he had any sense, would resign himself to the inevitable and leave. Blakey was a man whose job appeared to be remarkably well-suited to his natural temperament, and he had dealt with many a similar scene before this. No, to judge by the muffled thumps and thuds in the stairwell, the Captain had more determination than sense – and less money than either, like so many of Copeland’s clients.

The moneylender turned to look out of the window at the bloody sunset. “The doctor did his job well; and it seems that Able Seaman Hardy has done as required. However, I don’t recall having it recorded anywhere that his sabotage of the cargo should offset the money I loaned him; and besides, as the new owner of the Susan, I can scarcely let that sort of thing go unpunished…”

A short time later, Blakey knocked on the door. “What do you want me to do with the Captain, Mr Copeland?”

“Leave him somewhere near the ship; we wouldn’t want him to be late in leaving tomorrow. Oh, and ask around until you find our good friend Able Seaman Hardy.”

“Yes, Mr Copeland. Do you want to see him?”

The moneylender stretched one hand in front of him and examined the pink little nails absently. “No; precisely the reverse. I don’t want to see him. And I think it’d be for the best if no-one else does – unless he can be persuaded him of the benefits of silence, of course.”

“Right you are, Mr Copeland.” The bodyguard grinned crookedly. “I can be very persuasive when I need to be.”

“That’s why I employ you, Blakey. Now, I believe you have business to attend to…?”

Copeland listened to the bodyguard’s heavy tread as he dragged the former Captain over his shoulder and hauled him away to regain consciousness elsewhere. An efficient man in his own way, Blakey, but lacking in imagination.  Still, Copeland mused, seeing what the man was capable of without it,  it was possibly just as well.

Blakey made his way down to the docks in the gathering dusk, slinging the Captain down in an alley on his way to the Black Cat brothel where he expected to find the man’s crewmember. He was mildly surprised that the man was still unconscious but, hurrying off, he did not notice  the greyness of his face nor the frothing sound of the Captain’s breathing as it slowed to a stop.

Dawn approached, and the crimson sky was stark against the white sails as the Black-Eyed Susan slipped silently out of the harbour. On her deck lay the body of her Captain, grey and cold; and at her tiller a slender dark-haired boy, half-blinded with tears and rage, turned one last look on the town and vowed vengeance for the death of his father.

= = = =

On Dark Shores is available from Amazon US and UK – see appropriate link below




So – Marketing.

Given that a lot of my blog-traffic seems to be Twitter-driven, I thought it might be interesting to talk a little about Twitter, how it seems to a newbie and ask if anyone has anything to add on the subject. There are cool links at the bottom which I’ll update as I find more, but if you get to the end and there are any tips you want to contribute, please do!

It seems to me that for many indie writers the big issue is publicity. You can write the best book in the world but if no-one but your Mum knows it’s out there, you’re not going to sell a million! So how do we do this?

From what I’ve read it seems that the jargon they use for creating interest is to talk about “setting up a platform”. By platform they are referring to readers who are interested in the author as a brand – because, ladies and gents, that’s what we are. To sell our books we now have to engage with the digital age and sell the BrandYou – or in my case, JAClement. How do we do this? By means of digital media.

We’ll start with Twitter. I’m still very much a beginner at this, so you may all be laughing like drains at my ingenuity by now – for instance, I’m not sure that “meme” means what I think it means – any thoughts? On the other hand, this blog may be useful to people who are considering setting up an account but who are a bit put off by the Twitspeke and general jargon, so if you’re already a member of the Twitterati and know it inside out, please give us any tips you think of via the comments box!

So, what I have discovered by my own trial and error is as follows:

There are all sorts of ways of finding new people to follow you on Twitter. Many add you if you add them; some want verification you’re not a Spambot, and some won’t add you at all. You can search by keyword in author and Tweets and there is a tool to suggest people you might be interested in following. For me the thing I have to remember is that I’m not just looking at any people, but specifically people who are interested in books and ebooks; I don’t want to spam people with information about books and writers if it’s not something they’re interested in as that’s a sure-fire way to vex them.

I’ve started with the authors I know from the forums and expanded from there. So far I appear to have hit 300+ followers, some of whom are spam, some reviewers, some interesting people but a large majority of whom are authors. On the one hand this would appear to be preaching to the converted, but most authors are voracious readers as well – and people interested in what one author has to say seem to be up for finding out what another author is on about as well. Add this to the fact that if the author likes your book, they may retweet it to their own following, and that’s a useful tool.

There are also Twitter traditions that are useful.  Some “Tweeps” do #MentionMondays, some do #WritersWednesdays, there is a widespread tendency towards #FollowFridays, and the correct use of hashtags can be quite powerful. Possibly the most useful of these for you as a writer is #SampleSunday, whereby you post a sample of your book on your blog or website or wherever, and then Tweet the link. Accepted practice seems to be to reTweet (RT) other people’s samples to your own audience, and quite a few Tweeps have subsequently posted on the Monday to say that they’ve just found a book they like from one of the previous day’s samples, so kudos to all involved!

ReTweeting anything, whether sample or random quote, can bring you to the notice of the original poster (and will often get a thank you) and people don’t seem to cavil if you reply to something they said despite having never spoken to them before in your life! When they reply it shows on their feed so their followers will see your name – a few may be interested enough to investigate your page but remember that if you are inept enough to cause offence, any irate replies will also be there for the viewing by however many followers that person has and like many areas of the internet, things can get tribal VERY fast.

Twitter is useful in conjunction with other media, though, because snappy banter and links are all very well but if you want to sell your style as a writer (another major part of BrandYou) you need to show your fans something longer than 140 characters.  At the moment I’m in a Facebook Group that facilitates mutual help between authors but mostly you’re looking at forums for conversation and help, blogs for samples and general musings, and Facebook is good for status updates, photos, and video-sharing.

However, in the short-term, Twitter’s a pretty good place to start and though you have to be careful not to get bogged down in it, it veers from the facile to the fascinating sometimes in the space of subsequent Tweets. The Holy Grail of Twitter marketing is to “go viral” – but there is no way of predicting just what will achieve that heady status.

So – that’s what I’ve found out so far. What have I missed?If you have useful techie knowledge or hints and tips for using Twitter, please tell!

Have you had a successful marketing ploy or noticed a trend in what works and what doesn’t? If you’re a reader, have you ever bought a book after reading a #SampleSunday quote, or followed an author because of a comment they made elsewhere? What are your opinions? I’d be really interested to know.

Right, I’m off to bed now because it’s getting on for time to get up.  If there are any typos or I’m talking nonsense, that’ll be why… Will come back tomorrow (er, later today) and see what you guys can tell me (which I’m actually really looking forward to finding out).

And in the meantime, have a great weekend!


Catch you later, guys;



http://johannaharness.com/blog/the-amwriting-faq/ is a useful blog re #amwriting hashtag

http://www.socialmoms.com/profiles/blogs/what-the-heck-is-a-hashtag explains a bit about  what hashtags are and how you can search by them

http://www.bitrebels.com/geek/how-to-be-active-on-twitter-without-getting-burned-out/ explains how to manage Twitter a bit better when it’s getting mad (and has a great video at the end)

http://soshable.com/15-most-annoying-types-of-twitter-users/ – how to irritate on Twitter

http://indiebookcollective.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/twitter-lists-%e2%80%93-revisited/ – Twitter lists

COOL Twitter tools:

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-free-tools-visualise-information-twitter/ (Check out the Tori’s Eye one on that – pretty rather than useful but hey!)

Other people’s thoughts on the subject:

http://alboudreau.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/two-cents-on-twitter/ Al Boudreau’s two cents’worth.

More as I find them!