Wednesday, 27 December 2017


Selling my soul to the Devil. Or is it to the Angel? Is it wrong to let real people pay their hundred squids or so to become all-important parts in the unfolding story of Florida Key, as I weave their way into the plot?

I don't know, but I think not. I hope not.

After all, it's been an incredible way of crowd-funding - enabling this 'ere writer to do da writing instead of da decoratin'.

And here's a couple of examples - Kerry and Chris, who are 'Kerry and Chris', firstly located
in Anna Maria Island, Florida - and then latterly in Plainfield, Indiana.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

What's It All About

There's more to writing a book than just writing the book, you know. Not only do you have to do countless edits and rewrites, there's also the matter of publicity press releases - and the all-important cover. Is it all worth it, I constantly ask myself. Some days the answer is no, but thankfully, more often than not, I say yes.

Below is my third try, and it still didn't make the grade. 

It's the cover where you have to try to get across, in a limited number of words, what it's all about. Not as easy as you may think, and I know from raw experience. I attempted several times, and then gave up, concluding that my publisher would be far better at the exercise than me.


A keen cyclist, 17 year-old Oliver Markland goes on holiday to Florida, and while there he buys an old key from a flea market. He discovers later that it was actually a prison cell key, and he becomes obsessed with learning about one of the inmates, Yushi Yakamoto, an American young man of Japanese parentage, who had always professed his innocence until his execution for the brutal 1981 killing of Sandy Beach while on his epic cycle ride across the United States during that year.

In his new job as investigative journalist for a local newspaper, Oliver hopes to clear Yakamoto’s name and returns to America, determined to uncover the truth about what really happened in 1981. But in doing so he stirs up a hornet’s nest and finds himself in present-day danger from the man who for years had thought he’d gotten away with Sandy’s murder.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Slogging Away

If anyone tells you that it's easy to write a book - don't believe them.

It's Christmas Day, and I should be sleeping like a log since Christmas eve, waking up late and taking it easy.

What do I do instead? Wake up at 3am and think: "I've got an hour or so to get on with some editing from the Editor's notes," and get cracking with another chapter.

At this rate, I'll be finished - properly finished - by mid January. But I have to be disciplined to achieve my goal.

Monday, 6 November 2017

French Book Launch Sorted

My mate Adrian - he of the wine shop in Montolieu, has agreed to host my French Florida Key book launch on the 24th June 2018. His terrace will no doubt need some work done to accommodate the throngs of folks clamouring for a space, but anything can be achieved with a bit of je ne sais quoi.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

The things I have to go through as an author. Good fun though.

We needed a shot of a cyclist for the cover of Florida Key, so last night it was all lights, camera and action in our house, aided with a glass of wine or two. 

And now it's up to my top aide and graphics designer David Roberts to work his magic. 

I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Take Cover

It's a tough job, but it has to be done. While David, my friend and publisher, is hard at work on the graphics for Florida Key, I've been wracking my brains to come up with a few choice words for the strap-line beneath the title.

Or perhaps I could have something above the title. Ooh, I'm in a quandary, and I simply don't know what's best.

I was up all night trying out various configurations of a number of words, including 'unlock', 'secret', 'murder'...and many more.

But at least the graphics are coming along nicely.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Do Judge A Book By The Cover

A book cover is very important, isn't it?

In one fleeting glance it has to convey what the book's about, what its genre is, when and where it's set, and who the author is.

How great it would be for an author to have such a following that they have a captive audience of readers eagerly awaiting their next publication, only needing to have the book's title and their name on the jacket, to be enough to sell zillions of copies.

I'm unfortunately not in that category, so the design of the cover is ultra important for little ol' me.

I'm hugely lucky to have had Muddy Water's cover designed by my friend, editor and publisher, David Roberts, and he did a damned fine job on it too.

Now, with publication of Florida Key looming on the horizon, it's that time again to begin work in ernest on its jacket.

I think this is my favourite part of the whole project. It's the time when I can finally believe that it really is actually happening.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Reaching For The Bottle

I always look forward to my 'Book Club' sessions with publisher supremo, David Roberts.

I have to come up with a sub-title before next Wednesday's meeting. Something that describes what the book's theme is, in around eight words. Hmm. It's not as easy as it sounds.

We inevitably have lots to discuss, and on this occasion it was all about the font.

We're only in the early stages, mind. Lots to do. Needing some refreshment before we carry on.

Monday, 9 October 2017

What's It All About?

What's it all about, you may well ask.

The Key was purchased from a flea market while on holiday in Florida.

It was the only one among a collection of a hundred that had any markings on it...


What could those words, numbers and letters mean?

The Folger Adam Company was the finest manufacturer of detention equipment and locks.

The now derelict Joliet Prison, near Chicago in Illinois, was once home to thousands of inmates, where one in particular was incarcerated in Cell 10 on the 4th floor of Block A.

One particular inmate always protested his innocence, right up to the day of his execution.

"FLORIDA KEY" tells his story.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

It's Official

There's so much to do between now and publication date of Florida Key.

My head's in a spin with all the preparation needed.

But before we can work out our CRITICAL PATH ANALYSIS, we need a date for when everything needs to be done by.

And that date has now been set, I'm relieved - and equally scared - to know.

APRIL 22nd, I'll be launching Florida Key at The Royal British Legion in Wivenhoe, and June 24th in Montolieu, France.

I'm looking forward to both of them. I'll need some wine to give out at the parties, and I know just where to get it.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

All Dressed Up

I even got out my posh shoes and shirt so that I could attend a function at the lovely Caxton Bookshop in Frinton, hopefully talking to anyone remotely interested in Muddy Water.

Coffee and cake was offered, and I had my special pen poised to sign any purchases.

It would have been a brilliant morning if anyone had come.

Oh well, the life of an author has its ups and downs.

At least it inspired me to begin writing my blog again.

And another positive outcome was that I bought some lovely calves' liver from the fab butcher next door and ate it for my lunch when I got home.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Drivel Nonsense Balderdash Tosh

It sure is a tough job being a writer.

All that concentration.

But I have found it's easier after midday, after a nice glass of Cabardes at lunchtime. The mind flows more freely.

Then in the morning, the coffee helps to correct the utter drivel you realise you've written.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Florida Key

I'm a very lucky chappie.

Without any grief from 'Erindoors, the luverly Janee gave me her full blessing to let me stay in The Writer's Retreat (there's a link to it on this site - just have a look around and you'll find it somewhere), so that I can really crack on with my next blockbusting tome, Florida Key.

Today marked a special occasion, when I finally got to End of Part One.

I celebrated by having a little tipple.