December 11, 2016

"Trouble comes not in single spies ... "

That's Shakespeare, that is.

But in this case I've taken a liberty, because it's not trouble but good fortune that's coming my way.

So I'm sitting at my desk waiting for a Skype call to come in so I can record a podcast for Dave Core at And then the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) publishes on their website a brief article I wrote on 'The Secret of My Success'.

Success Stories

Moments after that's published, and while I'm still waiting at my desk, I get another email from a man saying he's just read this article and would I like to record a podcast on my Self-Publishing Journey?

Self-Publishing Journeys

I guess this is what they call a virtuous circle ...

November 16, 2016

I told you I was bad at marketing ...

So bad that within a week of posting a blog trumpeting my latest book, I changed the cover. I do it just to confuse you.

Anyway, here's the latest iteration. I decided to go for something cooler, having spent a lot of time browsing books in my genre to see which covers I liked. I thought I liked the multi-coloured, action-packed whiz-bang ones ... but when it came to it, the covers that appealed to me most were ones that created an atmosphere with a strong graphic and tasteful typography.

So that's what I've moved towards.

The photograph is actually of Aleppo in Syria, and while the city itself isn't featured in the book, the country and its devastation plays a large part in how the story unfolds.

November 10, 2016

Redirecting ... redirecting ...

It's strange to be using a rare blog post just to direct you somewhere else, but that's how I roll ... So, that wonderful supporter of other writers, my friend Eric Gates, has hosted an article by me on how I created the villains for my latest novel, Storey.

It got me thinking about how I arrived at the characters and personalities of the bad guys and gals, and made me realise, especially, that once they begin to establish themselves in the books, their personalities not only affect how I write them, but how they even begin to 'see' themselves in the books. And that in turn changes how I write them ... a virtuous circle sorta thing.

Anyway, the post is called Criminal Behaviour, and can be found on Eric's excellent site, here:  Thriller-Writer

Cover of Storey
To buy the book, you can click here to be taken to the nearest Amazon store to your location.

If that doesn't grab you it's also available on Apple's iBook store, on Kobo and the old stalwart Barnes and Noble's Nook.

In other news ...

My fourth Sam Dyke novel, The Bleak, is one of 8 crime novels featured in a new anthology called Britain Turns to Crime. A great honour to have been asked. It's available for only 99p or 99cents, from this Amazon link: Britain Turns to Crime. Here's the ad I've been running on Twitter.

October 15, 2016

I'm so bad ...

... at Marketing!

I've had a new book out for a week and don't appear to have mentioned it on this blog. Well, the original purpose of the blog was to write about other crime writers, not myself, so I suppose I can be excused.

So anyway, here's the cover:

And it's available now and for a short period for only 99p, 99 cents or 99 centimes, depending on your mileage. If you click this link it will take you to the book on your nearest Amazon store so you can buy it for the Kindle or - if your store supports it - in paperback. Storey on Amazon. It's also available for Apple, Kobo, Nook and others from here: Storey worldwide.

HOWEVER, I do have a Marketing push going at the moment, whereby you can get a free copy of the book. You have to be on Facebook, and you have to join my Launch Team group (click Join). Then you can download the book for free ... and even get the Sam Dyke Investigations books for free, too. Read the first post in the group CLOSELY to see how to do that. Here's the link: Storey Launch Team.

In other news, you may have noticed that I've had a revision of my covers for the Sam Dyke Investigations series, as seen on the right of the page, and I've also got several translations in the works. Altered Life is being published in Spanish and has already been published in Portuguese. The Private Lie has been published in Portuguese and Italian, with Spanish to come; The Hard Swim is in the process of being translated into Portuguese and Actress is available in Italian and Portuguese. Phew - I can't keep track of them all!

Finally, if you like listening to audiobooks, then Altered Life, The Private Lie, The Hard Swim and Actress are all available via Audible and iTunes, with The Bleak to follow shortly. Here's a link to the page showing these books (plus one by a chap with the same name ... ). Keith Dixon books on Audible.

Okay, enough marketing from me ... thanks for reading!

June 14, 2016

Guest Blog - Thriller writer Eric J. Gates

Today it's my great pleasure to introduce a blog by fellow crime and thriller writer Eric J. Gates. He is a writer with a background more interesting than most who writes contemporary thrillers and is highly successful at it, too. He is also a great friend to writers, promoting them on his own blog and through a tweeting regime second to none!

As the theme of this blog is What crime writers do, and how they've done it, I asked him to write something about the process of writing. And I hope you'll agree he's come up with a fascinating approach.

Write what you know? – the Menu Method

Jumping between the roofs of two skyscrapers, decoding a cryptographic text using just paper and pen, rappelling down a cliff face. These are just a few of the things I’ve done in real life that haven’t appeared in my thriller novels… yet. Then, on the other hand, I’ve never shot a Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile (one of my bad guys did in ‘Full Disclosure’), had a wound cured by genetically modified blood (yep, that happened in ‘the CULL’ series) or used an ancient artefact to modify Destiny (the ‘Outsourced’ series, though I used mine to have Keith invite me to this blog. Shh – don’t tell him) so I guess things have balanced out nicely.

On Amazon
They say (the grey They) “Write what you know”. I’m sure you’ve heard this. Supposedly it’s a piece of advice from Mark Twain. However, is it practical to expect writers just to include stuff they master in their books? I think not. That’s what in-depth research is for. (In-depth means not just relying on the Internet).
Not everyone has had the crazy life I’ve had. My incessant travelling and peculiar profession has allowed me to accumulate a wealth of thriller-esque experiences (and a particular set of skills) I can draw upon for my novels, yet I’m sure I am not an example of the ‘typical’ author in this respect. Many scribes, especially when facing their first books, look at their mundane jobs and life experiences, and despair. ‘Where is the material to populate the pages of a bestseller?’ they ask themselves. Well there’s a little trick I use which might help here, and would probably surprise them in the process. I call it the Menu Method.
Take a blank sheet of paper. Draw a line vertically down the middle. Now on the left hand portion, list out the things you know how to do, not the usual stuff shared by most (making a good cup of tea doesn’t count), but things that you’ve learnt because of what you do and who you are. Can you drive an articulated truck? Do you know how to fly fish? Are you a painter? Do you read ancient manuscripts as a hobby? Think hard, there are bound to be items to include in your list.
Now move over to the right hand side. Here you should list things you would like to do. Sorry, travelling on a one-way trip to Mars as a colonising astronaut may not fit the bill. Keep the items here reasonably practical. Once you have listed a few, go back over them and note down why you’ve not done this already; why is it on the right side of the page not the left?
Fun, right?
On Amazon
But what you have just created is a menu for your writing. Take something, anything, from the left-hand column and contrast it with anything from the right. What would you (or a character) need to do to go from the you of today to the one that is reflected on the right? Whatever you come up with, that’s an idea for a novel right there!
To make the right-hand column entries sound convincing when you include them in your novels, you should mix them with some of the stuff from the left-hand side (even superheroes need to iron their capes, right?). Then to flesh out the items on the right you have two options: learn how to do it (skydiving, ocean swimming, motocross racing etc) or research it in-depth. If the former is not possible, you should start the latter by finding an expert you can contact. Over the years I’ve been constantly surprised just how many people are willing to give of their time and knowledge to help out us poor scribblers. I’ve had University experts in ancient tongues (‘the CULL’ series), even the Dalai Lama’s Head of the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives in Dharamsala, India, provide me with information in response to my emails. Just offer to acknowledge their contributions in your books and many will provide you with far more data based on their own knowledge and experience than you could ever use in a story.
You see, you have missed out one important item on the left-hand side of the page.
You know HOW to have people help you when you come up against a problem. That’s something all successful writers do and nothing is stopping you from doing the same.
“Write what you know” may have worked for Samuel Clemens on the Mississippi back in the day, but remember he also said “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”.

Eric J. Gates - Biography

Eric J. Gates has had a curious life filled with the stuff of thriller novels. Writing Operating Systems for Supercomputers and teaching cyber warfare to spies are just a few of the moments he’s willing to recall. He is an ex-International Consultant who has travelled extensively worldwide, speaks several languages, and has had articles and papers published in technical magazines in six different countries, as well as radio and TV spots. His specialty, Information Technology Security, has brought him into contact with the Military and Intelligence communities on numerous occasions.
He is also an expert martial artist, holding 14 black belt degrees in distinct disciplines. He has taught his skills to Police and Military personnel, as well as to the public.
He is the author of ten thriller novels, drawing on his experiences with the confidential and secret worlds that surround us.

Where you can find him: 

April 21, 2016

The Indie Author Fringe Event - London Book Fair

Indie Author Fringe London Book Fair

For any writers who are interested in a little fun, last weekend I participated in a recorded video for the Indie Author Fringe Event at the London Book Fair. The subject was 'The better way to write a book: Plotter or Pantser' ... this refers to writers who plot out their books in advance as against those who fly by the seat of their pants. The link to the video is here, and if you're a writer you should definitely look out some of the other events at the fringe - they're a great resource of information and advice:

April 15, 2016

The Indie Author Fringe Event - Friday 15th April

At the London Book Fair this week, the Alliance of Independent Authors, ALLi, is hosting the Indie Author Fringe Event. It runs 24 hours and consists of a number of articles, videos and podcasts from a wide variety of respected voices in the world of self- and independent publishing. If you're an author making your way in this new world you're bound to find something that will be useful or relevant to you.

As it happens, I recorded a video with three colleagues last weekend on Plotters vs Pantsers - that is, what is the difference between authors who plot their works closely and those who fly by the seat of their pants. Is one more effective than the other? Does it matter which route you take? And so on ...

The Event is hosted at this page:

And you can see the agenda for the whole event here:

If you see this post in time you can find my humble contribution at these times:

15 April • 7:30 pm • LONDON
15 April • 2:30 pm • NEW YORK
15 April • 11:30 am • LOS ANGELES
15 April • 5:30 pm • SYDNEY

The good news is that even after the event, these articles, videos and podcasts will still be available on the ALLi blog.

March 31, 2016

A new Sam Dyke short story

... well, not that new actually. It's been available for a couple of months on Amazon Kindle only, but is available through the Kindle Unlimited borrowing scheme if you don't have the pockets to buy it!

Sam Dyke looks for a missing woman but has doubts about the motives of his client ...

Available now on an Amazon near you! The Second Guess

January 03, 2016

Catching up on important news

It seems I forgot to update this blog with info about my new book The Innocent Dead. How stupid is that? So much time spent on the website and FB and Twitter ... some things just fall off the back.

I should also mention that in the interim, The Bleak has won its category in the Chanticleer Reviews CLUE competition - noir/private eye. I win all sorts of prizes for that - a free review (which otherwise costs a fortune), a free run on Bublish, which is a Twitter advertising campaign; and various buntings and badges. Also, it's quite prestigious. So that's nice.

I'll shortly be starting work on the next book, a non-Sam Dyke crime thriller based very loosely on a true story. Why make things up when you can copy real life? ;)