Cough, Cough, Ouch

It’s been a while, but yesterday I woke up in some considerable pain, which I recognised immediately as a chest infection, and I had to go dashing to see the doctor.

I was right. I’ve had so many of them that when it comes to these things, it’s not often that I get it wrong. I’d been feeling manky for a couple of days, but the cause only made its presence known yesterday morning when I woke up to a stabbing pain every time I took a breath.

It’s self-inflicted. I’ve been a heavy smoker for almost 50 years. You can’t do that without inflicting serious damage, and I have breathing difficulties all the time. I can’t leave home, not even to go to the shops, without carrying my Ventolin inhaler. And I keep promising myself I’ll do something about it but it never seems to happen.

I did stop two years ago. A similar situation to now. I had a serious chest infection, a lot worse than the one I’m suffering now, and over the space of three days I reduced my tobacco intake to zero.

I went three months without a smoke, and it didn’t trouble me one iota. Then one fine Saturday morning we were out shopping in Manchester, and we got into a blazing row. Don’t ask me what the row was about. Like all our arguments it’ll have been something trivial like the cost of sausage rolls rising by a penny. Anyway there we were arguing like hell, she stormed off in one direction, I went in the other, and said to myself, ‘Why do I bother?’ Whereupon I ducked into a newsagent’s, bought a pack of 20 cigarettes, and before you knew it, I was back on 40 a day.

Before the bombardment of well-intentioned advice begins, let me tell you that I know and have tried every anti-smoking method in the book. I trained as a hypnotist specifically to deal with the pain of arthritis, but found it just as useless when it comes to stopping smoking. I’ve done all the other ‘tried and tested and certain’ methods and none worked.

You see, there’s a little secret to stopping smoking which none of these methods stress. You have to want to stop… and I don’t.

There are those situations where I’m quite comfortable without. A long flight, for example. You can’t smoke on aircraft these days, and it doesn’t bother me. Theoretically then, if I can go without a cigarette for hours and hours on end, I should be able to go without forever. But I don’t want to.

I don’t drink, I don’t gamble (the missus took care of that by pinching all my money) I don’t seek out the company of loose women (if they’re that loose, they’d probably fall off me) so smoking is the one vice I permit myself.

And before you tell me that I’m a drain on the NHS, forget it. One course of antibiotics every 18 months is not likely to bankrupt the state healthcare system, and there are bigger drains on it than me.

Naturally, I intend stopping. I just haven’t found the time to fit it into my busy schedule yet. I’ll get there. In the meantime, I’ll keep swallowing the penicillin and coughing up crap.

Yesterday wasn’t all bad. I got back from the doctor’s just after ten o’clock and found an Amazon parcel on the doormat. It was my paperback copy of The Squire’s Lodge Murders. The ebook is scheduled for release on December 13th, but it’s available for pre-order right now (see below). Paperbacks are not subject to the pre-order system, so the moment they’re posted to the Amazon site, they’re available for purchase, and if you feel like treating yourself to six quid’s worth of Sanford 3rd Age Club mayhem and mystery, you can find it at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Squires-Lodge-Murders-16-Sanford/dp/197929805X/

Alternatively, if you’d rather wait for the ebook, you can pre-order it on one of the links below.

That’s it for now. Have a good weekend and I’ll catch you on the flipside.


Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, exclusive to Amazon at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide


The Squire’s Lodge Murders, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #16 published by Crooked Cat Books, on December 13th 2017, is available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

 

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My Nano Approach

November is National Novel Writing Month, usually shortened to Nanowrimo, shortened even further (by me and many others) to Nano.

The idea is you write a novel in one month – November. By ‘novel’ they mean 50,000 words.

I don’t normally bother with it, on the grounds than I can beat that target any month I choose. That’s not just an idle boast. I don’t do anything these days but write, and my typing speed is fast enough to produce well over 1000 words an hour. Since the Nano target is less than 1700 words per day, hitting it is quite easy for me. In theory.

I’m best known for my cosy crime series, the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries, but I’ve had a hankering for writing darker, grittier material for some time. And therein lies the reason for taking part in Nano this year.

Most writers come in with a plan. I have one too. My plan is to have no plan. I know where to start, I know where I’ll finish, so all I have to do is fill in the bit in the middle.

Most writers will also work linear. In other words, they start at the beginning and make their way methodically to the end. I don’t work like that. Instead, I carry out random sorties. I might right the opening, then the ending, then chapter seven, then a section of chapter nineteen… and so on. It may seem odd, working in this manner, but it ensures that I will never dry up.

The new work will be entitled Womanhunt, and it will be produced by Robert Devine. If you don’t know who Robert Devine is, it’s because you’re not paying attention. He’s me.

Womanhunt is the second in a series of planned works with the central character Wes Deakin, a general counsellor and therapist, who has suffered more than his fair share of psychological problems after his wife was murdered by a serial killer four years previously. The first in the series, Hunter’s Moon is complete, awaiting revision, editing and publication. I’m hoping to put that out before Christmas, and Womanhunt will follow sometime in the New Year.

I’m not gonna tell you anything more about them right now, but I will keep you posted on my Nano progress as we go through November.

And with that, I’d better get back to the keyboard. The 50,000 words won’t write themselves.


Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, exclusive to Amazon at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide


The Squire’s Lodge Murders, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #16 published by Crooked Cat Books, on December 13th 2017, is available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

 

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Worn Out But Worth It

I don’t sleep well most nights. It’s a combination of factors: diabetes, which tends to get me up two or three times a night to visit the bathroom, arthritis pain, which even with strong analgesics is impossible to subdue totally, and the sheer boredom of retirement.

That last is the most important factor. I’m possessed of a jackrabbit mind, which leaps into high gear the second I wake up, and it can be difficult to subdue.

I had no such problem last night. I hit the sack just after midnight, and was asleep in minutes and aside from the one time I needed the smallest room, I didn’t wake up until gone seven.

It’s not difficult to work out why. Yesterday was simply one of the busiest days I’ve had for a long time. It was, of course, the official release of Peril in Palmanova, the long awaited fifteenth in the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery series.

I spent most of the morning faffing with my webcam, trying to cure audio/video sync problems, and I didn’t have a great deal of success. As a result, when the launch party started on Facebook, the live videos I put out left a lot to be desired.

Notwithstanding that, the day went quite well. The afternoon proved lively and entertaining, with plenty of input from the people who attended, but it effectively manacled me to the computer from noon up until eight o’clock in the evening.

It’s not physically demanding work, but it’s surprising how tiring it can be, and by the time I brought it to a close, and sat down to watch Professor Noel Fitzpatrick work his surgical miracles on a range of dogs, I was absolutely worn out.

But it was worth it. By the end of the day, Peril in Palmanova had climbed into the top 60 of the Amazon UK cosy crime chart. Over and above that, pre-orders had lifted The Squire’s Lodge Murders, STAC #16, into a healthy position in the overall rankings.

I don’t take any credit for that. Books, whether ebooks or paperback, are not sold; they’re bought. It’s not like selling home improvements where you can bring in high pressure techniques to secure the signature. As the author, having written the tales, it’s my job purely and simply to raise awareness of their availability. The rest is up to the readers. Fortunately for me, Joe and his pals in the Sanford 3rd Age Club have a core following of dedicated fans who had been waiting two years for the next instalment in their adventures.

For that, I apologise, and I hope the wait was worth it.

And it is to those devotees that I say thank you. It’s you who have set Peril in Palmanova on the road to success.

And now I’d better get back to the coal face. The next book won’t write itself.


Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, exclusive to Amazon at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide


The Squire’s Lodge Murders, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #16 published by Crooked Cat Books, on December 13th 2017, is available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

 

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Out

Today’s the day. Thursday comes round once a week. Releases in The Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery series only come round once a flood and today just happens to be the day when a new one comes out.

Yes, as of now, Peril in Palmanova is on sale in Kindle format and paperback. It’s exclusive to Amazon, which means if you’re a member of Prime, you can read it for nowt.

You might think that because you don’t own a Kindle you can’t download it.

Wrong.

If you go to the Amazon website you can download the Kindle app for PC, MAC, and even android for reading on your smartphone. I have plenty of e-books and I read most of them on my phone. Never has the humble novel been so versatile.

We’re holding a bit of a thrash on Facebook starting at 12 noon. Everyone is welcome, even if you don’t have a formal invite. Just pop along to the page, click on ‘going’ and chip your two pennorth in.

You’ll find it at: https://www.facebook.com/events/293014261214608/

The news, however, doesn’t end there. Just as Peril in Palmanova sets sail on the choppy seas of popular crime fiction, so STAC #16, The Squire’s Lodge Murders, comes online.

Scheduled for release on December 13th, The Squire’s Lodge Murders is available for pre-order right now, and it’s already in the top 500 of its genre.

So what are you waiting for? You’ve just got time to nip over to Amazon and order your copy of The Squire’s Lodge Murders for delivery just before Christmas, before you join us at the Peril in Palmanova launch do.


Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, exclusive to Amazon at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide


The Squire’s Lodge Murders, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #16 published by Crooked Cat Books, on December 13th 2017, is available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

 

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Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick… Quick

Things are happening at breakneck speed. The trouble is, at my time of life, I’m no longer built for speed.

To look at me now, short, fat (I’ve never been politically correct) permanently out of breath, you’d never believe I was a sprint champion. Mind, it was over 50 years ago.

Back to the plot.

Peril in Palmanova is released on an unsuspecting world this Thursday, October 26th, and I finally managed to get around to setting up a launch do on Facebook. It runs from noon to eight o’clock in the evening (UK time) and everyone is welcome. You don’t need an invite. Just cut along to the page and invite yourself. You can it find it at:

https://www.facebook.com/events/293014261214608/

And while all this is going on, I signed the contracts for Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #16, The Squire’s Lodge Murders, and a little while later I received the cover image, as below:

I’ll be updating be STAC page on this site later on… when I’ve got my breath back, been to the supermarket for the day’s shopping, hoovered the carpet, put food on the bird table, and shifted the house a bit to the left, all of which will be done with a brush up my arse, so I can sweep the streets as I’m going along.

Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, on October 26th, is now available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

 

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Hammer, Tongs and a Sore Throat

 

I haven’t put up any of my world-famous videos recently. Well, I say world-famous, there’s a bloke in Mogadishu who comments on them regularly, but I don’t know what he’s saying cos I don’t understand the language he writes in.

You’re probably wondering why I’ve stopped making them. On the other hand, you could be wondering why washing powder is so bloody expensive.

Well, I’ll tell you… why I’ve stopped making videos not why washing powder is so expensive. My voice has been rough as a bear’s arse ever since we came back from Mablethorpe. I’m not blaming Mablethorpe, although as whipping boys go, Mablethorpe tends to be very useful. It can be blamed for a large range of issues.

According to other people, my problem is caused by smoking. I can’t see it. I’ve been smoking for 50 years, but I’ve only had a sore throat for the last three weeks.

Be that as it may, plans are afoot to pack the weed in… again.

It’s all a bit inconvenient. Y’see, the launch of Peril in Palmanova is just seven days away. Yes, the excitement is building here at Festung Robinson because one week from today, the 15th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery will finally be on sale after what seems like months on pre-order.

And there’s more news. The 16th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, The Squire’s Lodge Murders, is with Crooked Cat Books, and I’ve had an email, literally just a few minutes ago, saying they’re ready to work on it, and could they please have the blurb (which makes life awkward because I haven’t written it yet).

So you see, it’s all go and to add to the complications, we’re fresh out of Weetabix.

As if there isn’t enough trouble in the world already.

Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, on October 26th, is now available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

 

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Blackpool, Saccharin & Baffling Books

You must have heard the old saying: all work and no play makes a man healthy, wealthy and too tired to spend any of his money. Something like that, anyway.

Well, I’ve been working seriously hard these last few weeks, and as a professional insomniac, I haven’t slept properly for almost a week, so yesterday the missus persuaded me to have a day off and take her to Blackpool. More truthfully she told me we were going to Blackpool whether I liked it or not.

As it happened, it didn’t turn out too bad a day. The weather was fair to middling, the motorways were busy but the traffic flowed fairly freely, and when we arrived in Blackpool, while all the other silly buggers queued up for parking spaces in the central car park that don’t exist, I found a spot in the public car park near Bloomfield Road football ground, and while the aforementioned silly buggers were still hoping for that non-existent parking space near the tower, the missus and I were strolling along the prom looking for a cup of tea.

So far so good.

That cup of tea provided the first argument of the afternoon (note: there had already been half a dozen arguments during the morning, most of them because I didn’t feel like driving to Blackpool, and I felt less like paying £50.00 in train fares). Getting back to the cup of tea, I made the mistake of letting Her Indoors go to the counter, where she spotted free saccharin pills for those who don’t take sugar, and a cream-filled chocolate éclair, both of which she took advantage of.

Notwithstanding being in possession of her own saccharin, she clicked a few pills into one of the cups of tea, paid a ridiculous amount of money for the chocolate éclair and brought the lot to the table, by which time she couldn’t remember which cup she’d put the saccharin in. She didn’t bother testing them, but pushed one cup my way and dropped even more saccharin into the other cup. You’ve probably already guessed that we ended up with two cups of tea loaded with saccharin, and I can’t stand the bloody stuff. Worse still, because I’m diabetic, I couldn’t have my half of the chocolate éclair. Result: another stand up battle of forcibly expressed opinion and counter-opinion in the middle of the tram tracks.

That aside, it was a pleasant afternoon and evening, and by the time we got home late-ish last night, I was so tired that it corrected my sleep pattern, and I’ve just got up from the best night’s rest I’ve had for a week.

But the day wasn’t without its puzzles, coming from no less a source and STAC #15, Peril in Palmanova.

Although it’s not due for release until October 26th, still nearly two weeks away, it is available for pre-order (details below) and yet it’s had its first 5-star review, from Janet Gifford Wills, who sings its praises and is eagerly awaiting the sequel. Well, Janet, first of all thanks for the review, and secondly the sequel, The Squire’s Lodge Murders, is with the editor, and should be on its way to Crooked Cat by the end of next week.

So where is the mystery? You’re not supposed to be able to review books while they’re on pre-order.

Naturally, it didn’t take long to solve. The e-book is on pre-order, but the paperback is published and already available for purchase.

So there you have it. For all you purists who prefer your reading matter in paper rather than electronic form, you don’t have to wait while a week on Thursday. You can pick up your copy now. Just follow the link below, and when you get to the Amazon page, click on paperback instead of Kindle.

As for me… After I finish this cup of tea (without saccharin) I’m off back to bed.

Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, on October 26th, is now available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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Just Like Buses

The Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries are a bit like buses. You wait ages for one and two come along at the same time… or very nearly the same time.

Peril in Palmanova is on pre-order in advance of the official release on Thursday October 26th. The Squire’s Lodge Murders went off to editor, Maureen Vincent-Northam yesterday and we wait her opinion with bated breath. What we’re using as bait, I don’t know, but whatever it is, the breath is set up with it.

Squire’s Lodge has been a pain in the nether regions, hanging round my bloody neck like the proverbial millstone for the last two years.  In the grand scheme of things, it should have been written and published within the three months after the release of Trial by Fire (STAC #14).  I had the broad outline, I knew what was to happen, and technically it was simply a case of getting on with it.

And I did get on with it.  At least half a dozen times.  And each one proved to be a false start.  I set it in Whitby, I set it in North Wales, I set it Northumberland, I brought it back to West Yorkshire, and none of them made any difference.  There was something lacking, and it wasn’t the location.

These early problems coincided with a marked deterioration in my health, for which I alone accept responsibility.  I don’t look after myself as I should do.  Aside from a couple of hastily written, scrambled together self-published titles, I wrote nothing of any substance between the summer of 2015 and the spring of this year when Crooked Cat put out my comic look at Life With Arfur.

And still Squire’s Lodge hung over me like the sword of Dan wossname.  You know who I mean.

Laurence, one of the founders of Crooked Cat, often asked, ‘Any sign of Squire’s Lodge?’ And I kept assuring him that it would be, ‘Soon.’

The missus and I were on holiday in Palmanova, Majorca, in May this year, and we were staying at one of the most bizarrely designed hotels I’ve ever come across.  Walk into most Spanish hotels and you’re on the ground floor, you check in and you take the lift up to your room.  In this case we walked in on the fifth floor, which was at street level, and took the lift down to our room.  The place was an architectural conundrum, made even more puzzling by the arrangement of elevators.  One of them was arranged to stop at all floors, another one only went down one floor, and yet another only went up two floors.  It was as if someone had given the architect a blank sheet of paper and said, ‘There you go, pal, have a bit of fun.’

Lazing about on the sun terrace, which gave us some spectacular views of Palmanova Bay, it occurred to me that the absurdity of the building’s arrangement would provide the perfect confusion for someone like Joe.  The same can be said of the determination of the entertainment staff to dragoon you into their fun and games, which reminded me of the Redcoats at Butlins, and I gave them the same answers as I used to give the redcoats at Butlins.  ‘Sod off.’

It was exactly the kind of answer Joe Murray would give them.

And there you have it: the genesis of Peril in Palmanova, and it was only a short step from there to using Peril in Palmanova as a springboard for The Squire’s Lodge Murders.

I’m not gonna tell you anything about the storylines in either of the two books.  What I will say is that they represent a slight change of direction for the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries.  Less a paradigm shift, more wandering off on a tributary, and it’ll be interesting to see where that tangent takes us.


Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, on October 26th, is now available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

 

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Shutting One’s Trap, Opening One’s Ears

They say you should never reveal a lady’s age.

Today is my first wife’s birthday and she 67 years old.

We’ve been divorced 40 years, so how come I remember her birthday? Well, you tend to remember the important events in history, don’t you? The Battle of Hastings, the Black Death, the Great Fire of London.

And this year, her birthday coincides with another major event.

There are exactly three weeks to the release of Peril in Palmanova.

All right, so it was all leading up to a plug, but give me some credit for creativity. At least I managed to get a link in so it made a bit of sense, which is more than some of our TV adverts do. There’s one running right now with Arnie’s head running round the shop on a little tractor telling everybody to make their minds up about buying underarm deodorants and other stuff. And what’s it all about? It’s a reminder that there are only two years left for these cold-calling pains in the arse to nag you into claiming that you were mis-sold PPI which you either a) never had in the first place, or which b) covered your payments when you fell ill or were made redundant.

A few years ago it was accidents, and I remember getting collared by some silly tart in town who noticed I had a plaster cast on my right wrist. I’d slipped and fallen at work. My own fault. I wasn’t watching where I was going.

This young woman went into full sales mode. “If you’ve had an accident at work, it can’t possibly be your fault.”

I told her she was talking out of her backside, she insisted, but like a Jack Russell worrying a dead rat, she wouldn’t let go. In the end I said to her, “Put the claim in if you want. As long as it doesn’t cost me anything, I don’t care.”

So she did.

Fast forward two years, by which time I’d forgotten all about her and the broken wrist, when I received a letter from them, which told me in no uncertain terms that I couldn’t claim for the injury because it was my own fault. I wasn’t watching where I was going.

There’s a lesson for salespeople in all this. Selling is not just about the gift of the gab. Try shutting your mouth and opening your ears now and then. You’ll save yourself a lot of wasted energy and potential abuse.


Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, on October 26th, is now available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

 

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A Worrying Time

Like many people in this world, I read of the appalling atrocity in Las Vegas yesterday and my thoughts are with those who lost loved ones, and the multitude of injured caught up in this senseless attack.

We were especially concerned because my wife’s sister, Anne, is on holiday in Las Vegas right now.  The time difference meant that it was the early hours of the morning over there when we learned of the attack, and for many hours we didn’t know whether Anne was safe.

She contacted her daughter early in the afternoon (our time) to let the family know that she was safe and well.  Her hotel was nowhere near the Mandalay Bay, and she did not get caught up in the incident or its knock-on effects.

But it’s worrying when you read of these things, and you have family members in the vicinity and you don’t know one way or the other.  In my opinion, for what it’s worth, this is just another mindless act of savagery in a world that seems increasingly crazy and hell bent on its own destruction, and I feel for those who have been robbed of their lives, but I have to say I’m relieved that Anne and her partner are okay.

By way of surreptitiously changing the subject, yesterday’s events, coupled to the collapse of Monarch, one of my favourite airlines, caused my day’s work to grind to a halt before it got into high gear.

With STAC Mystery #15, Peril in Palmanova currently on pre-order and doing quite well, thank you, I’m deep into the next in the series, working title, Death at Squire’s Lodge.  I’ve made a huge amount of progress over the last week, adding about 15,000 words to what is the first draft.  Yesterday put paid to that.  I’d written barely 300 words when the news broke, first of Monarch, quickly followed by Las Vegas.

The demise of Monarch is particularly saddening for us.  We’ve flown with them many times out of Manchester, to either Malaga for the Costa del Sol, or Alicante for Benidorm and the Costa Blanca.  We always found the cabin and cockpit crew very friendly, helpful, and patient (something which is particularly important when you are dealing with a crumbling, arthritic pain the arse like me) and I’m very sad to see them go.

Still, life goes on, today is another day (add as many more clichés as you can think of) and it’s time I was getting back to Squire’s Lodge to see what the Sanford 3rd Age Club the can do to solve the latest series of murders.

Peril in Palmanova, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #15, published by Crooked Cat Books, on October 26th, is now available for pre-order at:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

 

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