Beats: Book 2 in the DI Frank Lee Trilogy

It’s probably a mistake but I’m the sort of person who likes to show the process as well as the finished product – so here are the first 5000 words or so of the very early draft of the second book in the trilogy of crime fiction stories featuring DI Frank Lee.

The characters in Beats are mostly musicians of one kind or another; there’s Billy Heartthrob Harries, lead singer of legendary seventies rockers The Redcurrents, now in his sixties and still banging it out, and his granddaughter, folksy singer-songwriter, seventeen year old Freda.

Billy and Freda are just two of the people Frank encounters as he investigates the murder of a man found dead under the giant Orb Stage of the Elchurch Spring Music Festival.

The first book in the trilogy – Bums –  was published a few weeks ago – click here for details of that.

OK, here we go. Continue reading

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BUMS – Limited Edition Hardback available now!!

I had an unexpected arrival this morning.

BUMS - Hardback - bookIt was a cardboard box containing the first dozen copies of my new Novel ‘Bums’. This is the first consignment of what is a limited hardback edition of 200 books. It’s the first time I’ve published a hard-cover book and it’s turned out brilliantly.

In the end it all came together much more quickly than expected, so this is just a quick note to say that signed copies of this limited edition are available to buy for just £20.

Click here to go to my publisher’s website and order a signed copy.

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BUMS – New novel is almost ready to publish

Bums is my next novel – it is the first in a trilogy featuring Detective Inspector Frank Lee – the next two books are titled Beats and Bones and will be released next year.

Bums will first be available as a limited edition hardback – that will be available by the end of September. The paperback and kindle versions will be published in October.

Contrary to previous versions I’ve posted, this is the front cover of the hardback dust jacket.

bums-hardback-cover-3-frontmore details soon . . .

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a fat manuscript

With a bit of luck today will mostly be about beginning the final proofreading and possible minor edits of my ‘Bums’ manuscript . . .

ms1

260 full-fat pages

I’ve printed it out as a galley proof on one side of A4. This is so that there is plenty of free space to scribble comments and edits.

ms2

The ‘Bums’ manuscript laid out as it will be printed

I much prefer to work with a hard copy and also with the text as it will appear in the final book. I don’t understand why most literary agents and publishing houses expect you to submit a manuscript with the lines double-spaced. What’s the point of that? Maybe, back in the day, it made sense, and maybe it still does for the later stages of editing, but surely all they need at first is the actual text, and surely it’s easier to read and appreciate a text in the format most books are finally printed? You don’t see finished books for sale printed with double line spacing because it’s not a good way to read them.

In any case I like to type my words into a document formatted as if it was the final book – it makes it more real for me, although I much prefer to do the original writing in notebooks.

bums-inside-blacknreds

Three Black ‘n Red A4 notebooks – the majority of ‘Bums’ was plotted and written in these

I suppose I’d better get on with it . . .

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Bums Cover again

I don’t know whether this cover that’s emerged into the pixellated light is going to make it all the way to print or whether it will be completely rethought and redesigned. I think I need to leave it for a bit while the final proofreading of the text (81,900 words – 260 pages) takes place sometime in the next month.

Latest version of the cover for Bums

Latest version of the front cover for Bums – the novel

BUMS-COVER FULL 50 percent

The full cover- front and back – with blurb

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bums cover – first look

BUMS-COVER DRTAWING TRY 2-front-smaller

proposed cover for my new novel ‘Bums’: coming soon

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a bit of a ramble about bums

beggar

obligatory relevant picture to break up and enhance the flow of text

Not those sorts of bums, I’ve told you before, you and your dirty mind. You and your associations and preconceptions, your preconditioning and your naive acceptance of the cultural hegemony. No, the sort of bums I’m talking about are the sort of people who live on the edges of ‘normal’ society – the homeless, the drug addicts, wasters, layabouts, the disabled and the disadvantaged, the freaks and the drop-outs, the burglars and handbag-snatchers, the most loathed and the most feared, the abused and the abusers, the victims and the carers – anyone in fact, because there is no such thing as ‘normal’.

But, let’s narrow it down to the sort of people who, if you were inclined to use such language, you might, between clenched teeth, refer to as ‘bums’. Take Smelly Shelley, a middle-aged bag woman, stinking of piss and bad attitude – what’s her story? How did she get here? And Bernard, a shambolic mess of learning difficulties and obsessive behaviour – and Greg, a middle-class and useless young drug dealer. Or Karl, the dodgy nightclub owner and his brutish brother Byron. These are just some of the characters that Detective Inspector Frank Lee encounters as he investigates the bizarre killing of the headmaster of the largest school in the county.

DI Frank Lee is an ex-punk-new-age-traveller motivated to catch the real bad guys and not at all bothered about anyone else’s definition of what constitutes crime. He goes about his work in a calm zen-like way, believing that the solutions will unveil themselves in their own way and in their own time. Despite this apparently laid back attitude, he gets results, and he gets them quick.

So ‘Bums’ is the title of my next novel. I finished it a few months ago and it’s been sitting, lurking at the back of my hard drive since then, waiting for the right moment to emerge and reveal itself to the world – well, hopefully to a few readers anyway.

With a bit of luck Bums will be published in September 2015 – or even sooner.

More soon . . .

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midsummer madness

Have the seasons slipped? It doesn’t feel like it’s the middle of summer although I know it will be the longest day of the year on Sunday. To be fair it is a nice day today but I’m spending most of it sitting in front of computer screens working on book covers and suchlike.

wssn-cover-all2-lrA book cover I’m working on

Does every day have to have a theme – like a story? Is every day a different story?

I suppose the answer is the same answer that is the usual answer to everything – it is and it isn’t, depending on your perspective. The truth is that every nanosecond is different than every other nanosecond – during the time between the beginning of one nanosecond and the beginning of another a trillion trillion molecules have shifted, or degenerated into atoms, or been created by the coming together of free atoms or however it all works at a molecular level.

At and below the molecular level everything is in a state of flux. Nothing is dependable enough to say it’s the same as something else.

But on the more prosaic level of day-to-day life I know that if I rub some soap under some water it will create a lather, so one bar of soap is much like any other bar of soap. And that’s the rub I guess, it’s not the same, it’s just ‘much like’, similar enough to be dependable enough – there are no absolutes.

If we extrapolate that across space and time then it means that since we human beings are composed of molecules (even our brains) then we are constantly changing too. I’m different than I was when I started typing this sentence and I’ll be different again by the time I get to the end.

On a practical level what this means is that nobody really knows anything for certain, life is just one big guessing game.

There was a dodgy guy in front of me in the queue for the till at the co-op earlier. I say dodgy because I couldn’t work him out, couldn’t put him into a nice little box with a label that said ‘middle-aged man, bit rough’. I mean, that’s what he was, but he was also much more of course. He was muttering to himself for one thing, and twitching, and looking around nervously and edging too close to the bloke in front of him. So I held back, kept at least a step away from him in case he went feral.

He answered his phone as he approached the counter and bellowed into it: “I’m in the supermarket – in the queue – it’s noisy – hang on.” I  didn’t hear his phone ring, it may have been set to vibrate only of course, but I suspected he was only doing it for effect. You know, he was telling the world – “I’m not mad, I don’t twitch and mutter to myself in the queue for the till – I have actually got real friends, people who like me and respect me enough to call me while I’m in the supermarket.”

Or maybe I was just being paranoid.

Anyway, he didn’t go mad, not visibly, not then anyway, but he was still outside near the exit when I left, and he was still shouting into his phone, even though it was quiet there.

It’s about a quarter past six. I’m popping out to see a friend the other side of town now, in a minute . . .

Gone 8pm. Back from the other side and brought a memento – a holiday snap if you like

mossy-treeThe bark of a mossy tree from the other side

The original photo is much higher resolution but you should be able to get the gist – it’s a world of its own – it really is.

So, my mate was, as usual, charming, intelligent, and entertaining. We had a little chinwag about ageing and reminisced about crazy days gone by. For example, he saw a mouse in his house the other day and it reminded him of a time when he was about eighteen and sharing a house with his friends. They used to cook chips in a saucepan full of lard until one day they noticed mouse droppings in the pan along with scratches where the furry little critters had tucked in to the glistening white lardiness.

“Eugh!” (or something that sounded like that) I said.

“Oh, it was OK,” he said. “We just scraped the droppings out with a spoon and made the chips anyway.”

“I’ve also got a pet slug,” he said. “Well I hope it’s just one. I think he hides under the settee, comes out every night, and makes a pattern on the mat. I run my foot over it in the morning and it vanishes. I don’t mind. Slug trails are harmless, made from good stuff – I saw it on Springwatch the other day. I don’t mind the mouse either to be honest – better than the hundreds we used to live with back in the 70’s.”

Mouse-dropping man also told me he’d been for a drive to Caerphilly Mountain earlier, with another friend of his from back in the lardy days. They’d sat on a bench and reminisced, pinching the skin on each others’ arms to see whose was the loosest.

“Fucking ageing!” he shook his head,

“Madness,” I said.

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Wednesday Woes

I’m Wednesday’s child and therefore reputedly full of woe. There is, in the bottom of a biscuit tin somewhere in my mother’s attic, a creased black and white photograph of me at around 3 years old and if the expression I’m wearing in it is a typical one then there’s something in those old nursery rhymes.

It’s my wife’s day off and it’s already well past midday. It’s been a slow morning. Despite that a lot has been achieved so we’re off to Chapter – possibly for lunch (depending on how busy it is).

It’s gone two now. We did a bit of shopping and had Thai Carrot soup (vegan of course) for lunch in Chapter. Before we bought the soup we decided to become Chapter Friends, i.e. pay a membership fee and get some tasty discounts – we’ve already made £1.04p on the soup and got some free cinema tickets.

Here’s a picture of some Thai Carrot Soup

carrot_coconut_soup_2It’s not the actual Thai Carrot Soup we had in Chapter because I forgot to take a picture of it. This picture is from a recipe on the Peta Website.

The soup we had didn’t look like the soup in the picture either, ours was more soup-like and looked less like a blob of puréed vegetables.

The recipe is probably not the same either, it might even be completely different – or possibly all Thai Carrot Soups are much the same.

There are so many unknowns in the course of an ordinary day – don’t you think?

I’m still tweaking the WSSN book and will be putting a page about it all on the Opening Chapter website.

Time for a cuppa I think!

or

strawbsStrawberries and soya yoghurt – better than cream. Not that Alpro soya yoghurt is much cop to be honest – it’s got too many additives including sugar, flavourings, and antioxidants – and it tastes weird.

Other, more natural, non-dairy yoghurts are available.

Everyone’s got their woes, I suppose

Everyone’s got their stress, I guess

We all want things to be good, they should (be)

~

PEOPLE ARE COMPLICATED

No one is what they seem. I have only anecdotal evidence for this, I mean, having lived with myself since birth I still don’t understand myself let alone anyone else. For all I know there may be other people who are so clever that they do actually understand themselves and maybe some people exist who understand other people as well, and if such people do exist then they have my admiration and respect, but to be honest I’d bet my non-existent fortune that such people do not and never have existed.

Coincidentally, as I was halfway through writing the above paragraph, a friend who’s as complicated a person as complicated persons get, arrived on our doorstep needing a chat about their complicated life. After over two hours of listening and sharing our insights and observations, the friend left to meet some other people in a pub. And do you know what? Yes, you’re right, neither we nor the friend have got a fucking clue about what the best course of action is. It’s all ‘if this then that’ or ‘if that then this’ – it’s all swings and roundabouts – six of one – half a dozen of the other – there is no correct way to deal with anything.

As the friend was leaving I noticed there was a closed shopping bag left behind on the seat they’d been occupying. “Is that yours?” I asked. “Oh, bloody hell yes,” they said. “It’s my cat’s ashes.”

So if today has been about anything it’s been about uncertainty and impermanence; the  wisp of atmosphere we exist in is fragile and we are vulnerable, but in the end we do exist and that is magic enough!

 

 

 

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Writers in Wales

Writers in Modern Wales are undervalued and unfairly treated,
just as writers have always been.

** This article first appeared in the New Welsh Review,
Winter 1999/2000 **
(but it’s still relevant)

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”
Dr Samuel Johnson

“I’m just a Gower farm boy and I make bugger all
from my writing.”
Nigel Jenkins

“I don’t make money from my art.”
Robert Minhinnick

I’m not suggesting that Nigel Jenkins and Robert Minhinnick are blockheads, and that famous quote of Johnson’s may have been a little tongue in cheek, but it sums up the way many writers must feel when pumping away at their keyboards long after dark. Who can blame a writer for feeling like a blockhead, when, after weeks of effort on a short story or a poem the only recompense received is at best a few pounds, more often a couple of contributor’s copies. Continue reading

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