My latest Sherlock Holmes short story Miss Violet Dixon (deceased)

My latest Sherlock Holmes short story Miss Violet Dixon (deceased)
The front cover created with Gimp with help from Aubrey Watt on You Tube.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Not weather again!...Well, just a bit.

Today finds me not talking about the weather! Except to say that the table and chairs on the terrace is going to be put into the cellar because of fog and damp related issues!

Coming from a culture in the UK where the respect for Sunday has dwindled with shops staying open and kids playing on the streets etc., Brittany is in some ways refreshing. The only shop open here is the bakery (you must buy French bread fresh every day else it goes limp and chewy). This is fine until you have a weak moment and decide to do a bit of DIY and you break something important or you are lacking that last final plumbing bit....and the DIY store is shut...and you realise they are ALL shut! Why do things always break on a Sunday? Not only that, here in my bit of France you can't use the mower / strimmer / chain-saw etc. on a Sunday because it makes a noise and disturbs the neighbours. Fine....except that Sunday may be the only day when the weather is such that you can mow! Damn, talking about the weather again!

Writing more of my new Sherlock Holmes story this week has been a bit of an 'on-off' kind of thing. I have been side tracked into doing things related to marketing my books like offering a 100% off discount code on Smashwords to different Sherlock Holmes groups in different parts of the world. These range from India to Canada to the Czech Republic. If anyone is interested and reads this blog, you can pop along to Smashwords and find me or follow this link to my author page. Click on my book Sherlock Holmes and The Birchwood Affair and purchase it in whatever format you like and at the checkout enter the discount code DS64U to get 100% off....yippee! A free book. This code is valid until the 25th September.

Finding the right title for a book is something I find difficult. It has to be something that will attract readers so they open the book and read a bit, something related to the content  but snappy. I am having trouble with the current book I am writing which is making saving it on my laptop a nightmare with different file names as my ideas for a title change. I MAY go with Sherlock Holmes and The Zhou Bell, that has a nice ring to it! ; )

Google Drive is proving to be a god send, I tend to work on three different platforms, my MacBookPro laptop running LibreOffice, my Windows Netbook running Word 2010 and my iPad using CloudOn (a brilliant free bit of software that uses Word). I switch between the machines depending where I am. When I finish a writing session I save it on the machine I am using and also to Google Drive. This means at some time later in the day I can download the latest version from Google Drive onto a different machine and carry on....even if I am back in the UK.

Have a great week, share with me your writing experiences and download the free book.

Dick xx

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

It seems like I always start off my blog with a mention of the's wall to wall battleship grey and very wet at the moment!

I would like to talk a little more about my writing and I would like anyone who reads my blog to send me a comment about novels being at least partly factual. What I mean is, in my genre of 'Thriller / Mystery" the action may be set in real places that exist/ed. In my Sherlock Holmes novels there is a lot of hokum to generate a story line but places, events and in some cases people really existed at that time.

In the new novel that I am writing which is set in 1889 London, an antique Chinese bell on loan from the Chinese emperor is stolen from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Clearly this location exists but the story of the loan of the bell does not! I try to make the story fit the dates, the name of the Chinese ambassador is real as is the time frame for the emperor and the details of the bell and how it was made is also true. It takes me weeks to research things like dates, places, people, correct stations for journeys, railway companies etc. etc.

At the end of the day, does it really matter? Will the average reader care if the year isn't right or the train for Exeter didn't run from Paddington Station or the London Great Exhibition wasn't in 1861?

To me as a writer, I think it does matter. I enjoy the research and it is a bit like a giant jigsaw where I pull pieces of information together to develop the plot. Indeed, sometimes I have to rewrite the plot to fit the history! It would really niggle me if it wasn't right. Maybe it is me being a bit OCD and a Virgo to boot! My dining table here is littered with sheets of A4 that have print-outs from historical sources which I have annotated. Thankfully, we have few dinner parties here in rural Brittany and this pile of paper and my laptop can remain on the table for much of the time.

This morning I had a surprise when I looked on Amazon to see where my anthology was in the rankings. I was amazed to see that in the Historical Thriller section it was at No. 5 in the 'Hot New Releases' list and at No.26 in the Top 100 'Best Sellers'. Wow! A big thank you to all the folk who have bought my books at Amazon and Smashwords. If you haven't bought a copy of Sherlock Holmes Fireside Collection, trot along to Amazon and search either for me or for the title and treat yourself!

Have a great week,

Dick xx

Monday, 9 September 2013

Summer seems to have finally departed here in Brittany, there is certainly a coolness in the air of an evening and for the last few days it has been a bit damp and miserable. Daytime temperatures are hovering in the high teens (ºC) and at night they have dropped to below 10ºC when the sky is clear.

Still, we have had a corking summer, our daughter and her partner flew over to see us last week and whilst they were out on a nice coastal walk, he proposed to her! So, we have a summer wedding to look forward to and enjoy next year. I hadn't realised that you have to plan about a year ahead for these things otherwise they get booked up. Some venues are booked up a year and more in advance!

The Internet between Brittany and the UK has been buzzing with emails and photographs about possible wedding venues, photographers, guest lists etc. plus the costs of such items!! Being the bride's parents still has a sting in the tail even though they left home and set up their own home about 10 years ago!

The change of season means that we will have to order some wood for our large wood burning fireplace in our lounge. It is a bit of a beast and consumes at a rate of knots (no pun intended!). Last year we bought 2 Cords of wood and stashed that in the underground cellar. One cord is 3 cubic meters and the farmer who brings it loads up his trailer and then just tips it outside our basement garage door and then it has to be barrowed into the cellar. With my arthritis and heart problems, we have to rely on a friend doing this for us. He also brings his axe and splits the larger logs into more manageable pieces.

Finding suppliers of wood is quite difficult here as the farmers tend not to declare this income to the French tax man and so have a fairly tight circle of clients and only reveal their existence by posting a mobile number and will only accept cash. Our supplier has either run out of wood already or has packed it in as when we rang today he had none. To his credit, he did give us another number to try and we do need some more, we get through about 2 cords a year @ about €185 a cord.

Towards the end of September sees us planning our autumn trip back to the UK. Hitch up the trailer to the 4x4, put the cats in the cattery and go back to our flat that we have kept in the UK. My wife is vegetarian, a strange concept to the French. The trip back with a small 'coffin sized' cool box which soon gets filled with vegetarian goodies that will be consumed frugally over the next 3 to 4 months is an essential. I top up with some DIY bits and bobs that are far cheaper than in France, some computer bits and maybe a carpet cleaner. As almost all homes over here have hard wooden / tiled floors (the only fitted carpets I have ever seen have been in homes owned by Brits.) with the odd odd rug, the idea of being able to hire a carpet cleaning machine is quite alien. I may have to invest in one if I have space in the 4x4.

Anyway, have a good week where you are.  Good news on the publishing front, I have submitted my books to Amazon and they are now on sale there! They have only been live for 2 days (as of 9th September) and I have sold 11.
Here are the links 'Sherlock Holmes Fireside Collection  and 'Saline' can be found here

Dick xx