Four days in Fife

More like three actually. But the alliteration makes it sound like a romantic film or a heist movie. We drove up Friday and this photo was technically taken from the disputed land between the two signs. There were recently photos highlighted on social media of the grass being uncut in this area with the Scottish side as neat and trim as the eighteenth green at St Andrews. Of course, it wasn’t laziness on the English side: I was happy to explain we were participating in #NoMowMay to protect the bees and the butterflies. Thank God for hashtags and insects who take the fast lane to get their pollen.

Disputed lands

On arrival we had to stock up with Scottish delicacies before visiting my in-laws. As well as Irn Bru, Empire Biscuits (below) are another favourite – often enjoyed by Edinburgh detective John Rebus. However, I’m expecting a rebrand any time soon as this name surely won’t last.

Empire biccies

We stayed at a former distillery manager’s house on the Fife coast, around thirty minutes from Edinburgh. We stayed on the top floor and there was great artwork everywhere. For a few short days I got to live the dreamy life of a writer with not much writing to do. It was perfect. I had Pantone coffee cups, modern art featuring Irn Bru bottles, views of the Firth of Forth, the atmosphere of a house built in 1805 and a fantastic spiral staircase. I had lots of creative ideas and didn’t do much. Perfect.

That staircase

The house is wonderful and lies at the foot of a hill overlooking the beautiful Firth of Forth. At night we watched huge tankers leaving Leith and planes taking off and descending into Edinburgh.

The house

This is the view of the hill out back. It’s quite a climb and has tremendous views of the Forth and coastline and men in salmon and gunmetal diamond-patterned sweaters thwacking golf balls over gorse.

The view out back

We went to a local coffee shop and had this delicious flapjack. It was the kind of coffee shop where they take this kind of thing very seriously. You have to choose between chemistry sets before they make your drink. I asked for a Mellow Birds with a dash of UHT and they threatened to throw me out.

Chemistry set coffee

On arrival at our house two of these beauties below were waiting for me. I love whisky, thankfully. It amuses anyone younger than forty to learn my Irish doctor prescribed a dash of scotch in my bottle to calm me when I was a baby. He’ll be pleased to know he helped me form a lifelong habit, although I no longer wear a romper suit to partake (that’d be weird). Slainte!

We only had three days but we walked miles of coast, sucked up the sea air, and saw plenty of my wife’s family. After three deaths (losing her father, uncle and nephew) in the last two years it was great to welcome two new (very young) members into the family and meet for the first time. I wasn’t allowed to indoctrinate them into the whisky habit yet, but there’s time. (It’s no longer the 70s sadly).

Scottish wine

Novel Launch – She’s Out There Somewhere

My novel ‘She’s Out There Somewhere’ is launched on Kindle today.

You can view it here.

Thanks to everyone who helped with viewpoints about the cover. I received a lot of feedback on wordpress, Twitter, and good old-fashioned word of mouth.

The vote was quite tight, but came out as a tie between the black and white photo cover of the gatepost, or (following advice and discussion) development of a template. After careful consideration I opted for a template and this is the result below. I think it has the air of a thriller and hope the design gives the impression of a missing body/person and broken or failed communication.

The story outline/tease is here:

A chance discovery leads to Chrissy Clews investigating the disappearance of schoolfriend Laura, who went missing thirty years ago. The case was shrouded in secrecy with rumours about the involvement of a group of local men, and even Chrissy herself, in Laura’s disappearance.

After her release from care Chrissy is quietly rebuilding her life working at a motorway service station when her former teacher walks in and tries to discreetly buy a porn magazine. He doesn’t recognise her, but when he drops his wallet she hides it and can’t resist looking inside. She’s shocked to find a tatty passport photo of Laura Duggan, a school friend who went missing 30 years ago and was never seen again.
Chrissy decides to investigate but, with a troubled past and history of violence, how will she find Laura and get at the truth of what happened? Laura was a friend of Chrissy’s, but they fell out. Is it possible she had involvement in Laura’s disappearance? If she can find out the truth will anyone believe her?

I am sorting out a few review copies as requested, so please bear with me (also as I sort teething issues and Amazon profile etc.)

Once again, thanks for all your support and interest and comments.

Can you help me choose the cover?

If you have a few seconds free, I’d really appreciate your opinion…..

I’ve written a book which, subject to any late changes, I’m going to self publish in the coming weeks.

It’s a suspense/thriller novel of around 95,000 words called ‘I Know She’s Out There.’

I’m preparing the cover and tidying/editing the text at the moment.

To assist I’ve included the elevator pitch below:

After her release from psychiatric care Chrissy Clews is quietly rebuilding her life working at a motorway service station when her former teacher walks in and tries to discreetly buy a porn magazine. He doesn’t recognise her, but when he drops his wallet she hides it and can’t resist looking inside. She’s shocked to find a tatty passport photo of Laura Duggan, a school friend who went missing 30 years ago and was never seen again. She decides to investigate…

I’ve taken some images and mocked up covers. Obviously, I’m an amateur at this kind of thing (very much Sunday pub league), but please let me know if you have a preferred option, or indeed, if another approach is required.

When I publish I’d be delighted if anyone wishes to have a copy to review.

Thanks for your time.

Peace. Tranquility. First draft.

I haven’t posted as much recently as a result of writing around 73,000 words in just under 4 weeks. I almost have a first draft but, funnily enough, no title.

So I’ve written around 3,000 words per day but can’t decide on 5 or 6 for a title. A new work project begins shortly so I wanted to push myself and take this opportunity. I don’t usually write so fast but have found ‘outrunning’ the story fun, if exhausting.

I’ve been to North Wales recently (more of that soon) but Cannock Chase last Friday was a delight. We sat and drank tea and listened to the stream and the birdlife. Pics of the special place are below. It’s lush and beautiful now but was once a training camp for many Commonwealth troops preparing for the trenches of the Great War.

I hope that – despite the problems you may have to deal with – you are also enjoying some peace and tranquility.

I saw pebbles instead of words….

Writing fiction

I’m off again, having another crack at longer fiction. Writing novel length fiction is very demanding. It takes around 3 months (minimum) to write a novel. It takes endurance and stamina and large helpings of self belief or delusion to get there.

A novel is around 80,000 to 100,000 words typically, hence 1,000 words a day for 3 months. That’s just the first draft. Then the fun really starts.

Is it believable? Is it a page turner? Does the story flow? And a thousand other nagging worries circling.

I have a novel of 98000 words under consideration and I’m 20,000 words in to the next one. We’ll see what happens. I expect nothing. I’m glad to write again after a very difficult few years. As AL Kennedy would say, Onwards.