Interest and Intrigue…

I am continually amazed and humbled at how many people take the time out to read this occasional blog.  Hello to all of you, and thank you for being here.  That’s you in the Ukraine, plus my German, Russian, American, Canadian and New Zealand readers.  Hello also to you also, kind readers, in Brazil, the UK, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and India.

It’s really nice that ‘The last Changeling’, – the novel that is, not this blog – has been shortlisted for an award.  Of course I would be immensely thrilled to get it, although out of an awfully large number of semi-finalists, it’s unlikely… but… and I don’t want to sound ungrateful to the lovely people at Authors Database as I am delighted to be considered in the first place… but… I do find it a little strange that the award is for the cover, not the content!
If you want to have a nosey at the competition, and even go so far as to ‘like’ my cover, please follow this link…

Kindle are doing a fantastic promotion at the moment; The Last Changeling is on offer at a whopping 67% discount!  But just for the next couple of days!  So be quick if you want a discounted copy.  However, if you miss the deal you will still be able to get 33% off until the end of this week.  It’s certainly attracted a lot of interest.  For the uninitiated, anything under 100,000th. place is deemed not too shabby and, at time of writing, The Last Changeling is sitting in 2,638th place!

Incidentally… there has been some interest in The last Changeling coming from, shall I say, ‘officialdom’, which makes me wonder if I have put something in the novel that I shouldn’t have?  Parts of the story are absolutely true, and it does deal with espionage and the occult, so nothing would surprise me.

Here’s the latest version of the ‘back cover blurb’, I really hope you like it -any comments would be most welcome… thanks for reading!

All of history is secrets and lies.
The present is just a cover story…

Metahominids: Mêta’hôm’i’nîdz: (pl.) n.
Ancient Greek:  meta = other, hominids = men
From Dr. John Dee’s* ‘Inventory of Magickal Correspondences 1583
(*Dee was astrologer and code-breaker to Queen Elizabeth I)

Can you be sure everyone you meet is 100% human?
What if old legends and fairy stories were revealed to be encoded survival guides?

Parts of this story are true.

When a Government cost-cutting exercise goes too far, it accidentally compromises a centuries old cover up.  D, the enigmatic Head of Department, finds himself forced to fight for his life against the rising of a dark and persistent enemy, a traitor within, and a reckless amateur, hell-bent on breaking open ancient secrets.

Metahominids are our oldest enemy.  Throughout history there have been people who knew about these creatures and their ways – Dr. John Dee, Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, Sir Winston Churchill…
Within their traditional haunts of hill-fort, woodland and barrow, metahominids are dangerous enough – but now, like urban foxes, they are abandoning the countryside to infest our city spaces and prey upon us.  Our unwillingness to ‘see’ and believe in these ‘other men’ leaves us hugely vulnerable.  They steal infants and leave Changelings in their places.  Should any parent suddenly realize their child is a stranger, no professional would ever believe it was anything other than that parent’s aberrant state of mind.  
Metahominids infiltrate our places of entertainment with addictive music and dance unwary clubbers to death.  They move among us, destroying lives as they have always done, protected by the modern world’s inability to see what is really there.

Will D save the child or the venerable City of London?
His country or the planet?
Just remember, whatever happens, parts of this story are true.

The Strange Case of Sherlock’s Creator and the Missing Man.

Something quite extraordinary lies beneath the murky grey green waters of a Surrey lake: a gem of Victorian architecture – a strange memorial to an unconventional man.  If you take a moment to Google ‘ballroom beneath the lake’, you will uncover images such as this:

More properly entitled ‘The Billiard Room’, it was the invention of a singularly visionary and contradictory character, Whitaker Wright.  Yet nowadays, the property is in private hands and closed to the public, and Wright has effectively been airbrushed from history.

In particular, he has vanished from the known life of his next-door- neighbour, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Yet I find it hard to believe that these two fascinating individuals could not have been at the very least acquainted – and it is more than possible they could have been close friends.   

Lea Park was acquired by Wright in 1890, and Conan Doyle arrived in the neighbourhood  less than a handful of years later, after a friend recommended the beneficial Hindhead air for Doyle’s ailing wife Louise.
By 1897, Doyle’s self designed home ‘Undershaw’ was built.

Lying less than three miles from Undershaw, the billiard room beneath the lake was the venue for many séances.  Mediums were invited to attend and commune with the water spirits from the lake above.  That a man so keenly interested in mediumship as Conan Doyle, and so well connected in psychic circles should be unaware such activities taking place within walking distance of his home is unlikely.
The fact that Wright’s life was blighted by a scandal that culminated in his suicide, would more than adequately explain his absence from Conan Doyle’s diaries, yet perhaps he is secretly celebrated in no less a place than the very address of Sherlock Holmes.

Born into an ecclesiastical family, Wright made his fortune mining silver in Canada and the Americas before returning to England.  He purchased and transformed Lea Park, utilizing his expertise as an engineer, embellishing it with lakes and hidden tunnels, and crowning his achievement with the marvelously domed room beneath the lake.  Then his eyes turned to greater things, and he started tunnelling beneath London to create what was then called The Baker Street and Waterloo Railway.  
Wright was an exceptional engineer, but a poor financier.  When he began stripping money from one concern to bankroll another, Wright was caught out.  Convicted of fraud, he took cyanide to avoid bitter disgrace – and a seven year jail sentence.

HG Wells was so taken with Wright’s story that he created a very similar character, named him George Ponderevo, and let him narrate a novel, published five years after Wright’s death, called Tono-Bungay.  Another coincidence is that Wells is also strongly connected with Baker Street.  He lived in Chiltern Court, a block of apartments virtually on top of Baker Street railway station.

Contemporaries painted Wright as an out and out fraudster, citing his excesses as vulgar, but all of this came after his fall; beforehand he was seen as a public benefactor affording gainful employment to armies of people who created his grand scale works. 

That Conan Doyle should have remained silent when his neighbour was taken to court and ultimately took poison – all done whilst Doyle was still living less than three miles from the hapless Wright’s estate – speaks of a shocking lack of interest, or does it?  
A downright villain or hopelessly mired, either way, Wright is a fascinating character, and it stretches credibility too much to suggest Conan Doyle was disinterested enough in Wright’s fate to make no comment in public or, as far as I can tell, in private.  

Conan Doyle’s silence is tantalising.

Sometime later, Doyle’s interest in mediumship ended his friendship with the rather more sceptical Harry Houdini.  Before all of this, might not Doyle’s passionate defence of seances have found a strong bond with fellow enthusiast Wright?  Perhaps even Wright’s suicide was an escape… into another life he was certain he could have after death?  It might be too much to assume Conan Doyle attempted to commune with Wright ‘beyond the grave’, but surely the thought, and maybe even the temptation, must have crossed his mind?

Yet Conan Doyle is as complex and confusing a character as Wright.  The genius who created Sherlock Holmes was also taken in table turning charlatans and even by two devious little girls and a handful of paper fairies – but having lost a son in The Great War, maybe he wanted to be?
Here I have to hold my hand up and admit I too have cast Wright as the villain in The Last Changeling, my novel that weaves fantasy with history.  In it, I have him draw a pistol on Conan Doyle, after they have become bitter enemies. 

Enemies or friends, I would like to think their fascinating lives overlapped rather more than history would have it.   

Long Time No Blog… I’ve been away with the Fairies…

My boss said I shouldn’t do it….
But I did….
I took one enormous gamble and went for it…. and that’s why I’ve been so long in coming back to this blog.

It started innocently enough.  My partner and I went for a drive in the Shropshire countryside and ended up at one of our very favourite spots, the tiny but picture-book perfect Whittington Castle.  We sat by the lake and drowsed in the sunshine.  The castle was advertising an event for the following weekend, a Fairy Festival.  Within half an hour I had booked myself a place to promote The Last Changeling, a novel I had always thought of as being seriously anti-fairy.  I call the malign beings in my story ‘metahominids’, (after all ‘fairy’ is such an ‘airy fairy’ nomenclature for what I have written of as seriously nasty beings, surely?).

The festival was a huge success and my book was eagerly taken up by just the kind of people I thought would have hated it – wing wearing fans of ‘the fey.’  I was taken aback to see that so many people like their fairies kick-ass rather than disneyfied, and it taught me a huge lesson.  By being very precious in promoting the book as a novel for adults, I had avoided using the term ‘fairies’, and thus I had all but hidden my book from a potential legion of fans.

‘D’oh!’ as the great philosopher Homer, (Simpson), would say.

Well…. long story short, I caught the festival bug and decided to hold an event of my own in Llangollen.  A very pretty town in North Wales that features a lot in The Last Changeling.  My partner and I approached the Royal International Pavilion’s very helpful staff, and asked when we could book this enormous site.

This is where the International Eisteddfod takes place every year.  If you haven’t heard of it, think of it like an Olympics for singing and poetry.  People from across the planet rock up to the tiny town and compete to out-sing and out-recite one another.  One of my personal highlights from this years’ event was the parade.  It got held up as it snaked through the town, and a delegation of very beautiful Chinese girls, all dressed in embroidered pink silks started singing a familiar song in Chinese.  It was only when they got to the chorus ‘Music. music. music’, (which they sang in English), that I realised they were singing an old ragtime hit, ‘Put another nickel in to the nickelodeon…!’ Amazing!

But I digress… the Pavilion staff came up with a possible date for our festival, the 10th and 11th of August. This gave us around seven weeks to organise the event.  Just us two.  With no money.  That is when my boss told me not to do it.

Yet the words of a very successful man, Richard Branson, came back to me.  His philosophy is simple, ‘Screw it!  Let’s do it!’
So we did…. we planned and cut wood, we created wonderful things, we painted and begged and borrowed.
And we didn’t sleep, and we worked ourselves to a standstill.
And we came up with amazing ideas that could be created on a shoestring
We had a wonderful website built for free:

Against all the odds, the two day festival The Legendary Llangollen Faery Festival took place over the weekend of the 10th and 11th of August 2013, with a Grand Faery Ball where the grownups donned fairy finery and danced to the most amazing music on the evening of the 10th.
And bands came and played and sold their CD’s to cover their costs and we had workshops and stalls and great food and the papers gave us amazing coverage and it was on the radio and everyone, but everyone had the greatest time – as did we – and everyone, but everyone has booked their stalls for what they demand will be an annual event and so we have to do it all over again next year… Phew!

It was the busiest, buzziest time I’ve had in a long time… and all because I’ve written a book about fairies!

The Strange Case of The Mummified Fairy

This intriguing story first came to light in 2009….

Do Fairies live at the bottom of your garden?

Maybe not anymore but a recent discovery would suggest that they probably did. What appear to be the mummified remains of a fairy have been discovered in the Derbyshire countryside. The 8inch remains complete with wings; skin, teeth and flowing red hair have been examined by anthropologists and forensic experts who can confirm that the body is genuine. X-rays of the ‘fairy’ reveal an anatomically identical skeleton to that of a child. The bones however, are hollow like those of a bird making them particularly light. The puzzling presence of a navel even suggests that the beings reproduce the same as humans despite the absence of reproductive organs.

The remains were discovered by a local man, who wishes to remain anonymous, while walking his dog along an old roman road situated between the Derbyshire villages of Duffield and Belper. The area has long been shrouded in mystery with tales of ghostly highwaymen and strange ‘dancing’ lights on warm summer evenings.

“I was walking along the lane at a point which passes an old Iron Age barrow (burial mound) when my dog began to bark and act rather strangely. He was barking in the direction of the barrow and would not go anywhere near it which was strange as we walk past it almost every day. I was curious and approached the mound to see what could be disturbing him and it then I noticed something odd… the side of the barrow, a fissure as if a section of ground had subsided or opened up. The crack measured about 2ft long and 1ft wide and looked to have been formed recently as I had never seen it before. I knelt down and looked inside the dark hole. The hill seemed to be hollow like a cave as I could feel a cool draught against my skin. I used the small led torch on my car keys to see if I could see anything in the darkness. It was at this point I saw something that startled me, 2 or 3 feet in front of me I could see a human like form only this was much smaller. My initial instinct was to call the police as I thought it may be the body of a small child but as I looked closer I could see that this was not the case. It was too small and more importantly, it had what appeared to be wings! Not want to touch it I used a stick to carefully drag it out and picked it up in one of the dog’s poo bags (empty of course).”

He immediately called his wife stating he had found something ‘unbelievable’ and asked her to bring a camera and a box immediately.“When I first arrived I could hear the dog barking from some distance, I had no idea what he had found. As I approached the barrow I could see my husband crouched down looking a something on the floor. “What have you found?” I shouted, “See for yourself” he said. I looked down and saw a tiny but perfect mummified human body with hair, dark brown skin and more disturbingly, wings. “I know what it looks like”, he said “but how can it be? And there’s not just one, I’ve had another look inside that hole in the ground and there are more!”

The body was taken home in a biscuit tin and kept in a garage overnight. The following day the local police were informed and the remains were taken away for analysis. As a local expert on the paranormal I was approached by the police for my advice although this was kept rather quiet to avoid ridicule and press attention. I was taken to the location by the man who originally discovered this amazing find. On closer inspection the barrow appears to contain more that 20 fairy bodies all in varying states of mummification.

The dry cave like interior has preserved the remains to such a degree that some bodies even have tiny finger nails and eye brows. I have returned since then to document the find as much as possible. On one particular occasion I was shocked to discover that some attempt had been made to reseal the barrow but by whom?

The site appears to be a burial ground for fairy folk and the exact location of the find has not been revealed and no further remains have been removed from the mound. It has not been substantiated how long the remains have been there although the state of mummification would suggest more than 400 years. The countryside could be strewn with hidden burial mounds which have lain undiscovered for centuries. How could such creatures exist without detection for so many years? Cryptozoologists who have examined the remains suspect they have evolved to suit their surrounding so well they would be virtually invisible to the naked eye. Their wings and skin pigment would camouflage them extremely well and they would most probably live in the tree tops and rarely venture down to ground level. In winter they would probably retreat underground into cave networks.Whether they still exist is another question but the remains found in Derbyshire have laid thousands of years of folklore to rest.”

I can reveal I have been in contact with the ‘unknown’ man.
Those of you who believe in fairies, stop reading here… 
Seriously.  Stop!
Okay, still with me?  The ingenious hoaxer behind this story is Dan Baines, quirkmeister and all round interesting person.  He’s a real life ‘Jonathan Creek’, creating truly ingenious magical illusions for professional magicians.  His style is visionary, and he’s also a master prop-maker for wonderful movies including those of Guillermo Del Torro, (The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth etc.).  Dan’s website is breathtakingly fabulous, blending Lovecraftian darkness with eccentric steampunk – so, if you want a real visual treat, go to :
Even the name, ‘Lebanon Circle’ is synonymous with weirdness.
The Circle of Lebanon is an area in Highgate cemetary, (London for non-Brits; last resting place of numerous luminaries), where an enormous Lebanese Cedar tree has grown in the middle of the dozen or so tombs of a family vault.  The eerie looking circle has begun to sink – and, shiver if you must… a genuine vampire was spotted there in the 70’s… not the 1870’s… the 1970’s!   
Dan revealed his mummified fairy was a hoax back in 2009, but it has appeared all over the internet again only recently – probably around April Fool’s Day to begin with….hmmm….
He was at a convention last weekend speaking about it.  What amazed him, when he originally revealed the whole thing was a hoax, was the number of seemingly sane, but very earnest people who insisted he was lying, that the mummified fairy was real, and that he must be secretly working for the government!  At one point he was getting tens of thousands of emails about it…
Okay fans, this is strictly between you and me… ready?  Dan’s agreed to his story being included in book two of The Enigma Wars – Cold Redemption, the follow up to The Last Changeling.  To muddy the shallow waters lying between the very narrow channel that divides truth and fiction, I am going to present the mummified fairy hoax as a deliberate attempt at misdirection, created to cover-up a far stranger event…
Cold Redemption is due for publication at the end of 2013…. and it’s business as usual for D9, the secret counter-metahominid unit, with the truth being far, far stranger than any fiction….   

Can Anyone Be Psychic?

The brief answer has to be ‘yes’.
When asked, a lot of people have direct experience of precognition, perhaps via a significant dream that came true, disliking someone on sight who turned out to be an undesirable character, or by simply thinking of someone they hadn’t seen for a while and that person unexpectedly appearing.
In their book ‘Life and How To Survive It’, psychiatrist Robin Skinner and comedian John Cleese cite an experiment. Upwards of 100 people are put into a room and asked to grab a partner.  These couples are then asked to quickly find another couple.  Strangely, the resulting ‘families’ are often found to have a tremendous amount in common.  Stranger still, there are always people left out of the groups.  Single people, unchosen and alone.  In almost every case, these people are orphans or have been adopted! It’s extraordinary, but somehow the ‘families’ recognized that these people had a strong sense of ‘not belonging’! These results have been replicated many times, but without any satisfactory explanation.  The people involved would hardly use the word ‘psychic’, but there’s obviously some form of advanced recognition system going on.
I call it ‘anomalous cognition’, or AC.
Knowing something without understanding how that knowing came to be.
Later on in ‘Life and How to Survive It’, the way in which we choose our life partners is explained in terms of having ‘invisible shop windows’ with what we like about ourselves on display, and a complex play of half-hiding our ‘less-acceptable’ traits, (which can often be far more alluring), too.  Our partners ‘see’ our window and if they like it, choose to be with us.  So how do they ‘see’ our window?  Certainly there will be an element of our true animal nature coming through via pheromones and other, (all but invisible cues), but is there more to it than that?
I think so.
It is my belief that precognition (the ability to ‘see’ events before they happen), evolved as an active survival tool in early hominids.  When the apelike creatures that evolved into modern man first came down from the trees, and took their first steps on the African Savannah, their survival chances were hardly good.  Perhaps the hunt for food had driven them down onto the plains, but abandoning the safety of the trees was surely a perilous move? There would seem to be no obvious protection from predators for our early ancestors. So why risk it unless they knew they had something to give them a fighting chance?
The rest of the animal kingdom has an impressive array of tactics that they can deploy when confronted by  a ravenous predator. From the basic one of tasting vile, to spraying venom, or squirting ink, to camouflage, threat display, armoured flesh, sacrificing a limb, playing dead, running away/climbing away/swimming away – fast, vanishing into a swirling herd, using hooves/horns/teeth…. the list is long and varied, but has one thread running through it…. mankind does not have real mastery of any of these skills.
He can run, but not very fast; he can hide, but be smelt out; he can bite, but his teeth are not match for a big cats’.  In short, early man on the African plain was pitifully exposed to danger. Breeding as slowly as we do, producing mostly single offspring just once a year, the infant was vulnerable, and caring for it for several years, along with its siblings made the mother extremely vulnerable too.
Early man lacked advanced tool-making skills, and it didn’t help that his developing brain carried a huge and desirable cargo of calories that any predator would literally kill for.  In short, we were soft, slow, fleshy, and we tasted really good!
So what gave us that fighting chance?  Quite simply I believe it was that remarkable brain.  Trained to know every inch of its’ surroundings, ever vigilant early man began to recognize the feeling that something was not ‘not quite right’. Perhaps it was the faintest whisper of scent on the breeze, or an unfamiliar dark patch in the distance, but by recognizing the potential for danger and avoiding it, early man literally lived to fight another day.  This ability grew even stronger in the vulnerable females.
Perhaps this is where ‘feminine intuition’ was first born, and that’s why women are natural adepts.  The mother who decided to return to her clan by a route that instinctively ‘felt’ safer, lived to breed, and to pass on her ability to her offspring.  Thus the least precognitive were predated upon, and their bloodlines died out, whilst the most precognitive survived and bred the trait more strongly and deeply into the species.
This is ultimately why we are all ‘psychic’.  That’s why you re-checked your wing mirror and saw the other car that had crept into your blind spot; how you ‘knew’ the bad news before you were told it and that’s how, sometimes, you know who’s phoning before you even see their number.
However, whilst most able bodied people can run, not everyone has the training or natural aptitude to be an athlete, and the same is true of ‘psychic ability’.  Natural ability plus rigorous training makes for the best athletes, and the same is true for ‘psychics.’
Try thinking about someone you haven’t seen in a while.  Focus on them for a few moments every day – it could be whilst you are in the shower or driving to work.  Continue thinking about them daily for the next fourteen days – then see how long it takes them to turn up or get in touch.  The time it takes is a great indicator of your innate psychic ability.
Why not leave a comment and let me know how you do?

If you can meet with triumph and despair, and treat those two impostors just the same…

Last night there were twelve entrants and three places in the finals up for grabs.  
The prize for getting through into the finals is getting the first chapter of your novel published in an ebook of first chapters.  Okay The Last Changeling is already published as an ebook, but that didn’t disqualify it, and I certainly could use any extra publicity.  It’s a big world out there, and my little book is only one of billions.  
The ultimate prize is the kudos of being the best, plus there’s a week long residential creative writing course in Walesfor the writer the judges decide to be the ‘most deserving.’ 

I didn’t get through to the finals.
It didn’t help that one of the judges said it was ‘terrific’ and the Compere said it had made him want to read The Last Changeling, even though, as a fantasy thriller, it’s a genre he usually doesn’t read.  
I’ve grown used to winning and not winning, and although it’s easier to embrace the drama of losing, I’ve learnt not to take other peoples’ opinions as personal criticism – not everyone ‘gets’ what I write.  However, if it shows me where I can make my writing stronger, I use the opportunity.  
Losing a film competition spurred me on to write The Last Changeling, so maybe this latest not-quite-setback will lead to a further creative surge?

Judgement Day

The briefest of blogs this evening as I have to face an interesting challenge tomorrow… 
First things first though; if you have been following my posts – Hello friends in Russia!  Hello friends in Germany! – you will know that I recently took part in Amazon’s offer of promoting my book, The Last Changeling, by making it free for a day.
Things I did wrong: 
1) I didn’t promote it on any free book websites – this I should have done as it can generate future sales when readers trawl those sites and find mention of the title.  
2) I didn’t spend any money promoting it.
Things I did right:  
1)I tweeted, Facebooked and blogged about it like crazy.   
2)I didn’t spend any money promoting it, (I guess that can be put under both headings!)
I know a fellow unknown-British-writer who had 100+ copies of his book downloaded on his free day, so I was hoping for something like that number.  The figure finally came up at just short of 450 downloads!  I’m sure that’s small fry to some people, but it’s wonderful from where I’m standing.  Some downloads went to India – I had no idea there was such an interest in British supernatural tales there.
So my little book has fluttered very far indeed, and even now someone I will never meet may well be settling down to read it.  That’s both heart warming and completely amazing.
Now, onto the interesting challenge for tomorrow:
For the entire month of May, Liverpoolwill host the ‘Writing on The Wall Literary Festival.’  Some heavyweight names will be coming to the city, like Melvyn Bragg, Janet Street-Porter and Howard Marks, but tomorrow night sees the start of the ‘Pulp Idol’ heats. 
Just like the TV show Pop Idol, it’s a competition for writers in which novelists aim to impress a panel of judges by reading from their self-penned works.  
Tomorrow night it will be my turn to get up and introduce The Last Changeling to them.
Please wish me luck.
Thank you.

Free at Last!

‘You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.’ Kahil Gibran.

I’ve been enjoying a few sales and some excellent reviews of my first novel, The Last Changeling.  It’s an alternative history, fantasy thriller.  It deals with conspiracies and a lot of ‘what ifs’.  
We’ve had wizards and vampires, and I wondered what other supernatural beings would appeal to readers?  After a dream, I came up with the idea that it would be fairies – not the cutesy pink confections of modern cartoons, but the ancient malign creatures that haunted the forests, and stole children.
I called them ‘metahominids’, (literally ‘other men’). What if population pressure meant they started moving out of the country, and began invading our city spaces, like urban foxes?
What if we’ve been at war with them for centuries and the evidence was all around us? If Churchill’s black dog was not depression but a haunting spectral hound; if Myxamatosis hadn’t been developed for rabbits, but as a chemical weapon to spray on the barrows, the metahominid strongholds?
I found it hard to believe that so sharp a mind as the one that created Sherlock Holmes could be so easily deceived. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle embraced the cause of the Cottingley Fairies, (a series of faked ‘fairy’ photographs), the whole world stood and wondered. Perhaps the metahominids had cruelly manipulated him, using his fame and position to prove to the world that they, ‘the fairies’ simply do not exist?
These are the subjects of The Last Changeling, a story that unfolds through time.  Now if anyone is to enjoy my storytelling, I have to change hats and start telling people that the book exists, and where to find it.
My life as a writer is compelling and for the most part blissful, but I still feel the whole world of marketing is someone else’s territory – that of the dark masters of the arcane arts of salesmanship.   

I’ve learnt a little about ‘key words’ and SEO, whilst the dreaded algorithms that allegedly affect a book’s ‘ranking in the charts’, have achieved an almost semi-mythical state in my confused mind.  This is as a result of various conflicting blogs.  Some writers swear search engines ignore a huge percentage of keywords after much misuse by the very salesmen that sought to promote them in the first place, whilst others insist certain terms still prove a powerful attractant to the swarms of crawling web spiders.

I sit in the midst of the web as confused and entangled as any other non-techie, like a tasty morsel about to be encased in silk and gobbled up by the mother spider. 

All I know is that in The Last Changeling, I have written a book I am proud of, and even whilst I am nurturing the mewling infant that is Book Two of the series, I have to propel Book One, (The Last Changeling), even further out into the cruel world that is the virtualsphere. 
The Last Changeling is taking its first steps out onto the brink, whilst I stand by like a vigilant but terrified parent, willing it to spread its just-fledged wings and fly.

I have provided it with a strong title and an eye catching cover, and a clutch of glowing reviews are the wind beneath its tiny wings. 

Now I have to stand back and watch it soar; the thermal is the giddy gust of promotion. 
Today, the 7th of April, just for the day, for the first time ever, The Last Changeling will be available for free.  Readers will pay nothing, nada, zero – and maybe just for this one, brief day, the book will fly further and faster than it has ever done before. 
If, by chance, you should find The Last Changeling fluttering onto your Kindle, I would be very grateful if you could take it into your heart, and maybe get back to me and let me know what you think of it? 



‘It was the day my grandmother exploded…’

So begins one of my very favourite novels, ‘The Crow Road’, by Scottish author Iain Banks.  In 1995 I began a new relationship, and this book was from that time.  Soon after we had read it together, the BBC dramatised The Crow Road, ‘our book’, and we devoured every bittersweet episode as if it had been created just for us.

My memory of that book will forever be laced with the giddy joy of new love. 

The book remains, the lover does not. 

Our time together was marked by the Dunblane massacre at the beginning, and the Omagh bombing at its end.  What right had I to be so happy, when dreadful suffering was so close at hand? 

I must have grown up a lot in the intervening years, and I see things differently now.  I can share other peoples’ sadness’s and not be consumed by them – or my own.  But just yesterday, I heard Iain Banks will be ‘away the Crow Road‘ himself, far sooner than he should be by rights; he has terminal cancer, and I grieve for him, his family, and all the further books he would have written were he granted longer. 
In today’s Guardian, fellow Scottish author Val McDermid writes: …we should take Iain Banks’s work seriously because it enlightens us as well as lightening the load. I can’t help raging against the dying of this light. The only good thing about knowing it’s coming is that we can all make bloody sure the man knows how much he means to us all …

This is my attempt to do just that.
I have never met Iain, but Google an image or two and you’ll see a shrewd looking, personable face gazing back at you.  I shared a slice of my life with his work, and for that I am forever indebted. 
Thank you Iain.    




Living In ‘Interesting Times.’

The Universe has been shutting me down since my last post on here.  First my car broke in a way that I couldn’t afford to fix – and I loved that car!  Now my mobile has been irrevocably lost.  This would normally have been a disaster, but I feel quite calm about it.  All my ‘troubles’ are fixable with a bit of cash, and there are those who would love to have my so called ‘problems.’

 Recently I met a remarkable lady, Mary Curtis who has written an extraordinary book, ‘The Goldfish That Jumped.’
The best way I can describe it is as an antidote to all that going round in circles stuff we do when we leap from frying pan into the fire and back again into the pan.  Mary has used her innate wisdom to escape a world of troubles and now, through her writing, invites us to do the same.

Through her I learnt that my one time mentor in metaphysics, Gill Edwards had died.  Gill was an inspirational teacher and it was through her, if indirectly, I came to be a writer, (that’s a story for another time).  I was shocked and saddened at the news of her early death, but it has been a wake-up call for me to stop merely surviving and ‘get on with it.’

Thus I am sanguine about the car and the mobile phone, my poorly cat is now considerably better, and I have time, once again to get on with the things like writing more of Book Two of The Enigma Wars series, and completing the wing I began making, (see previous post), and I am grateful to be able to do so.


As John Lennon said and sang, ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans…’