Photo Diary

Archive for the ‘Blogroll’ Category

Another day, another new book and PHOTOS!

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Well, when I said I would like photos, I was hoping to get a couple of photos back. As it was, there were loads! Sadly, too many to stick into a blog like this – not at the rate my computer uploads, anyway. So often the ruddy thing gets stuck at a slow speed!


Thanks to all of you who sent in pictures. There were some really good ones, especially those of my books in close proximity to writers I admire in bookshelves – I like yours, Susan Marsh, with mine next-door to Sharon Kay Penman, a writer I hugely admire.


But for the main theme, I guess I have to fall back on my own staples. Books and beer. What more joy can the world possess? Well, gin, I suppose, and whisky, but for now, I’ll go with Loren Bell’s photo.

Loren's Photo. Relaxation of the best sort!

Thanks to all for sending me your pictures. If you keep on doing so, I’ll work out another little prize – but the next one will be a little more unique, because it’ll be a copy of Litmus, in which I’ve a short story inspired by Professor Jim al-Khalili, about Einstein. It’s different, and the anthology should be very good from the look of the other authors involved in the project.


A special thanks also to Mary Burke, who sent me a picture of the heart-warming sort: a row of my books on a Borders’ shelf in Seattle. You see, that is the sort of thing an author needs: proof that somewhere his books are there ready to be sold!

Mary Burke's photo - Seattle

And now I have to crack on with work.


Tonight I am dancing in support of Cogs and Wheels Morris, who are dancing for charity, raising money for cancer awareness. Their lovely Sallie Reason died very suddenly early this year at a ridiculously young age. She was a talented artist and illustrated lots of books. I had been hoping to work with her, but the cancer took her away too quickly. So I’ll be dancing, with Tinners’ Morris, at Sticklepath at half five, and then Okehampton at seven or so, just in case there’s a UK, Devon-based fan reading this today.


If you read this Saturday, of course, you’ll be too late! But then there are always new, upcoming events. If you are in the UK, or just want to see what’s happening, take a look at the Tinners’ Morris site at: and you will see the full diary. In future there will be links with music and video too, hopefully.


So, the new book, KING’S GOLD is out, bringing my series to a round thirty titles. Quite a shock, really, to think I’ve written all those words!


In the UK you can buy signed copies from Goldsborough Books in London, and if you’re US-based, you should be able to get them from Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona. However, if you really want an individual copy with some free bookmarks thrown in, you need to contact me. UK books are £20, US £30. Shocking price for the US, I know, but it’s dictated by the cost of packing and postage. Sorry about that.


There is a repeat of the lovely offer from Conway Stewart in that, so if you buy the book or go to you can enter a competition to win one of my special Dartmoor pens. Alternatively, if you go to Simon & Schuster UK’s site, you can find a little blog post about the latest book, and soon on you will find a link to a video interview with me. In a week or so, that will be moved to the Simon & Schuster site as well.


And so back to work. Currently I’m researching the Templars, the German Order and the Leper Knights at the time of the siege of Acre. All good fun. Meanwhile, there is the work on shorts stories and modern books going on apace. Hopefully more news of them before too long.


All best to you, and do keep on commenting via the website and Facebook.


So, another charity event.

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

No. Not a party.

It was four years ago I last did something for charity.

There was a time when I’d regularly help out with raising money or other things. I did five years as secretary to a local club, then five more as secretary to a local fireworks event, and in the meantime I tried to help good organisations. Now, though, time is so restricted, that it’s hard to find time to do anything.

So, this year I decided I’d do the London to Brighton cycle ride again.

We made it!

I can get really grumpy with some charitable events. There are so many of those “I am walking around Machu Picchu, please help” which to me seems more like paying for someone else’s holiday.

After all, if I’m sponsoring someone to do a swim, cycle, or walk, I want to know that almost all my money is going straight to the charities concerned, and not paying for the airfare and hotels for the participant.

And yes, when it comes to London to Brighton, all the admin costs and the petrol to get there etc is paid for by the participants. It’s going to be pretty expensive. Still, it’s good to see that there are so many who’re keen to be involved.

The books opened for registrations on one Saturday in March. Within twelve hours all 27,000 places were filled. Yes, 27,000. That is a lot of people wanting to . . . well, mainly to have a good day out, achieve something for themselves in terms of long-distance cycling, and get involved with like-minded cyclists.

There are some, inevitably, who are a pain to have, of course. There are the drunks, the dim, the incompetent, the vague and the astonishingly dangerous. I saw two ambulances stretchering off injured folks last time. Quite a lot more injuries in fact than I saw in thirty years of pistol shooting. Well, hardly surprising. Shooters were much more carefully regulated. Anyone can go to a shop and buy a bike without proof of age or competence.

Last time I fell off, it hurt!

Some people shouldn’t be allowed to. I saw some morons riding down a steep slope into Brighton at full speed. I went pretty quickly too, but not so fast I couldn’t see what the road was doing. Blind bends and speed to me equal potential pain. I don’t like the sight of blood. Not when it’s mine.

So I hope that this year I will be fortunate and avoid seeing any more idiots on the roads. Well, any other than those I’ll be riding with!


And now, to the ebay advert of the week. My favourite has to be this:


Just read the advert carefully where the arrows point. And then go back and look at the part that tells how much has already been bid for this astonishing advert.

There truly are more twits born every minute than you could shake a stick at!

Take care, folks.


Oh, and if you want to contribute, go and donate your ill-gotten gains at



Nearing The End

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

There are times when writing is a breeze.

You sit at the desk and ideas come every second, or so it seems, and other times when new concepts flow like mud. Generally I think the muddiest times are the beginning and end of a novel, while the buzzing period is invariably the mid-point. That’s the time when the book is full of potential. You have all the characters fleshed out, their motives, their points of reference and interest, and they start to take over with a lot of extra action and developments I would never have thought of at the outset. It’s fun in the middle.

But the beginning and end . . . Hmm.

At the beginning it’s less problematic, of course. Any issues can be sorted later – at the end.

That’s where I am now. Editing and checking all the links, all the red herrings, all the tweaks I added on a rainy Sunday afternoon – they’ve all come back to bite me in the arse. That’s how it feels usually, anyway.

The last few pages are hardest of all, to be fair. Because you want the book to work to a logical, consistent ending that doesn’t jar the reader. I always think of it like a dagger-point, with all the strands coming together at the tip. This one, thank goodness, is working well to that end. so far. There’s still time for it to go way off course!

But it’s so slow, because it feels always that almost every sentence has to be validated with an earlier statement or scene, making sure who said what and when and to whom. It’s the part I find most difficult.

Luckily it’s also enormously rewarding. And rather good fun on this book. I think I’m going to end up feeling very smug about book 31!

More smug than earlier this morning, no doubt. I had a great feeling of happiness having decided which new mobile phone I should go to, after a lengthy conversation with a helpful Orange operator, who persuaded me away from my first choice after looking at my actual usage, and saved me a lot of money. That was great, but my initial joy was offset by the sight of my Bernese Mountain Dog. She had taken advantage of my chat to go and find something particularly revolting and roll in it. Back home to a cold shower for her.

But all in all a good enough morning. Tonight I should finish the main work on the book, and then it’s down to final tidying. A happy time.

If the dog doesn’t roll again tomorrow!


A Delightful Gentleman

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Just heard the very sad news that HRF Keating has died.

I met him several times when I was at Crime Writers’s Association events. A self-effacing, kindly gentleman, always polite and excellent company, he began his hugely popular inspector Ghote series without having visited India, where they were all based. He always seemed somewhat surprised to learn that so many Indians enjoyed his work.

As well as the Ghote series, he worked on non-fiction, he had a pseudonym (Evelyn Harvey), and other titles. He learned his trade in newspapers, but will be remembered for the more than 20 titles he wrote since 1964. Within the CWA he’ll be remembered mainly for winning two CWA Gold Daggers – a marvellous confirmation of his abilities as a great writer, as was confirmed when he became a member of the Detection Club.

I for one will miss him enormously.

DNA and Politics

Friday, March 25th, 2011

John Rentoul, a journalist on a UK national newspaper, has happily tweeted this morning a comment about the government’s policies on DNA. For those who are lucky enough not to live in the UK, the system in place used to allow for all people stopped and arrested to have their DNA taken. Then, it was matched with any crimes the police could find. We are told that many old cases have been solved with recent DNA innovations. A particularly repellent man was yesterday put in gaol for life.


But now the dastardly government wants to do away with this.


Which is typical very silly politics and Rentoul should know a ruddy sight better.


You see what used to happen was, that if you were arrested by the police, your DNA would be stored and recorded – for life. Not if you were convicted of a crime, you’ll notice, no: Labour is a control-freak party that believes (against all logic and history) that the state is best. At all times, in all places. Including your life, whether you have already committed a crime or not. I say that because Tony Bliar was very keen on research that suggested it was possible to predict which children would become career criminals. So he planned that they could be taken from their parents and put up for adoption.


The man was, it has to be admitted, a megalomaniac of the very worst sort and not merely a deranged, money-grabbing war-monger.


But the idea of storing individuals’ DNA was OK, Labour said, because of course, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. Well, crap, actually.


If you shake hands with a man, and he climbs into a car, drives to a house, goes in and kills someone, your DNA will be there. In modern life it is damn difficult to imagine a possible crime which will not be contaminated. And that means Police who search for DNA may very easily be distracted by the wrong DNA.


A few years ago a European (German, I think) series of crimes was finally looked at again. Over many years this perpetrator had committed a number of crimes. They were utterly insoluble, covering a huge territory, and the MO was different for each, the timescales were confusing – all was terribly confusing. Until after six or so years, it was realised that the DNA being analysed had all been contaminated. They were looking for scientists in their labs, not the actual perpetrators. It set the cases back years. Probably several crooks will never be caught now, because of that blinkered search for DNA.


In England there is a new system of DNA analysis that takes trace samples and from that a computer model extrapolates what the DNA might have been originally. It is enthusiastically being sold all over the world. But in America and most other countries it’s rejected because it is not, never will be and cannot be, proof. It’s making up the DNA. Like saying, “The murderer’s name starts with a D, ends with an S. OK, so it’s you Mr Daniels!” brilliant, except Mr Davies, Mr Djanglies, Mr Donuts and many others would also fit the bill.


Still, Labour are fulminating about this silly government because they want to remove this database. They don’t want every person who has been arrested (whether charged or not) to be on a database. I rather like that idea.


Still, the man yesterday was probably responsible for some 200 crimes against the elderly, involving robbery and rape. It’s good he’s inside.


How was he caught? Not by DNA. He was caught by the police having an undercover operation for two weeks in an area he was known to target. They caught him by old-fashioned police work, not DNA.


DNA has never been a magic bullet. It is only corroborative. The sooner our thicker politicians can get that simple fact into their heads (which I personally doubt) the better.



Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

The Last Few Yards

There are few more hideous periods in an author’s life than getting close to the end. Fine, so I am nearing that gorgeous phase when I can type “The End” and wander into the sunset. But hold on  . . .

First, you have that rush of happiness at the thought that it’s close to being over. Except it’s not, of course. The agent will call up with the “Hey, Mike, this is great” call, which must have a “But” somewhere towards the tail-end.

Then there is the editor, who will be more fulsome (it means nothing. They’re more polite the less keen they are), and the copyeditor. Both involve retypes, more work, reminding yourself what the hell the story was, who died in that alley, and who on earth was actually responsible.

The job is never over, really.

However, before you even get that far, there are other little tribulations.

Doubts creep in.

Did I tie up that red herring on the first questioning of a suspect? Oh, God, no, I didn’t. And the guy’s clothes. Why were they green on that page, when I clearly stated they were red on this one? The ruddy man’s carrying a sword here, but it’s only a long knife at the end of the para – and why the hell do I say that she was dead lying on her back, when she was on her face on page ten?

Some, of course, aren’t so bad. Some, indeed many, of these little niggles (did I say little? Hah!) aren’t so bad always. They can, for example, mean that the story develops along new, unforeseen lines that can make the plot work a lot better. But some don’t work that way. Some are story-stoppers. They are the equivalent of the tree trunk lying across the railway tracks in front of the Riviera Express. They stop the thing on the tracks while the poor blasted author wanders off muttering darkly about narrative consequences and tangled webs and wouldn’t it be nice to be stacking shelves at Waitrose rather than sitting here at the desk for twelve hours or more every day . . .

And then you reach the sunny uplands and suddenly everything is good, happy, delightful, and a massive, massive relief.

I am looking forward to that moment just now.