All posts in The Long Hard Road

Let’s Twist Again! (the story of ‘A Sting In The Tale’)

LET’S TWIST AGAIN!

There’s a lot to get through for this collection of twelve short stories; so buckle up and get ready for a rollercoaster ride! There are twists and turns throughout every story; just when you think you know the ending there’s a final twist!

The stories in ‘A Sting in the Tale’ deal with love, death, revenge and mystery. You can find a ghost story or two and for good measure several of the stories are laced with a touch of comedy. So there’s something for everyone.

‘In Voice’ is a love story about an elderly bookshop owner with an unusual talent and his summer of love with a young schoolteacher.

‘Daylight Robbery’ tells the story of an audacious jewel thief.

‘Affair of the Heart’ is set in Bath; will his partner leave him to run away with a married man?

‘Traveller’s Rest’ is a ghost story; or is it? You decide.

‘What’s in a Name?’ This is what used to be called a ‘shaggy dog’ story; my apologies to the Canine Defence League if that’s not appropriate. There are no dogs in the story anyway.

‘Dobson’s Choice’ is based in my home town and is another love story; as in Hobson’s Choice, young Laura Dobson is left with no choice at all.

‘A Merciful Release’ tells of Christine Amor’s passion for boy bands; not unusual for a young girl, but when the lady concerned is middle aged, her actions are a little extreme.

‘A Crack Shot’ will give some young wives ideas how about how to deal with a cheating husband, but could they dream up such an ingenious method of creating a ‘win win situation’?

‘Come To Rest’ is a story of revenge set in Weston Super Mare. Jane Collingwood is a genteel spinster with a romantic past.

‘Bang to Rights’ sees Dave Abbott have to deal with a tearful woman in what proves to be an explosive day with twists and red herrings in his job as concierge at a luxurious office block.

‘The Class of ’64′ is loosely located in Trowbridge, where I myself went to school. There the similarity ends. In this story a group of bullies get their comeuppance.

‘The Last Bus’ is a ghost story set just four miles from my home town. This bus journey was one I took with my parents & my brother on numerous occasions, but we never knowingly had the same experience as my narrator.

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All of the stories are based in the UK. This is simply because that’s where I live and therefore they are the places I know best. Some locations are really close to home like ‘The Class of ‘64’, ‘Dobson’s Choice’ and ‘The Last Bus’, while ‘Traveller’s Rest’ is based on a real incident from my days in the band.

We were travelling back from a gig somewhere south of London and heading towards Andover, Devizes and a warm bed. Through a thick stand of pine trees Nick our saxophone player spotted a dim light. We stopped and reversed back to thread our way via a cinder track through the trees into a clearing. It was a truck stop that had seen better days and we were the only vehicle in the truck park. The proprietor looked after the eight of us with a cooked breakfast, hot drinks and a selection of corny jokes and riddles that amused us during our stay. We left him as the sun was coming up with a cheery wave. Although we travelled that way a dozen times over the next few years, we never found that truck stop again. No matter how we strained our eyes at the passing rows of trees we never saw a dim light, no cinder track and we certainly never sensed any smell of sausage, bacon and egg wafting through the early morning. Spooky!

Why did I write this book? Why a collection of short stories, rather than another novel? As you will have read elsewhere, I stumbled into writing fiction and after I’d completed ‘The Final Straw’ I was at a loose end. It was up for grabs on Amazon and doing the rounds on a virtual book tour for the summer (2013); the reviews were scheduled for September/October perhaps and I searched for some local reviewers to get things moving. I discovered a writers group in my home town and I thought I’d get some help there. As part of my induction process and in an attempt to ingratiate myself with this motley crew I offered a couple of poems and a short story or two for their opinions. My offerings went down well, but there was no sign of a book review anytime soon. I tried my hand at a couple more short stories & when ‘The Final Straw’ was picking up my first award, I had about seven or eight completed. I thought that twelve was a good number and cracked on in the week or two before we were off on holiday in late September. The holiday was for rest & recuperation for both of us but my wife wanted me to be ready to start the sequel to ‘The Final Straw’ as soon as we returned home.

I published ‘A Sting In The Tale’ in October and started writing ‘Unfinished Business’. Four months later, I thought I’d better think about promoting BOTH books. That’s my downfall; I love writing but can’t get to grips with the marketing side of things. Everything had to be delayed for a couple of months due to illness, but I’m fighting fit again now and so the past couple of months have seen me reaching out to Laurence O’Bryan (see below) and others for help in getting my books in front of a wider audience.

I’m off on holiday again shortly, you’ve guessed it! I’m destined to be tucked away for several weeks writing the next book as soon as we get home! Happy days!

Take a look at these shorts with a twist why don’t you? There’s a lot of variety there for very little money!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Sting-In-The-Tale-ebook/dp/B00GCH4HVI

For all your promotional needs and social media exposure par excellence I heartily recommend http://booksgosocial.wordpress.com

Musical Mystery Tour (the story of ‘Unfinished Business’)

MUSICAL MYSTERY TOUR

Welcome back! I’m sure you’ve already read the story behind my first novel ‘The Final Straw’ but just in case you missed it, why not take five minutes to read through ‘Deaths In The Family’ which precedes this new chapter?

Okay, we’re all on the same page now! ‘Unfinished Business’ is the sequel to ‘The Final Straw’ and continues Colin Bailey’s quest for revenge. After a decade in West Africa, out of reach of the long arm of the law, he has waited impatiently for the news of whether Neil Cartwright, his former friend, has managed to get parole.

Colin Bailey is now in his early forties and alone. He has watched his homeland sink further into a morass of crime, drugs, sexual exploitation and domestic slavery with increasing anger; he despairs of the efforts of the police and the legal system to do what’s needed to remove the cancer that’s killing the country he loves. With targets still remaining on his list from before he had to hurriedly escape to The Gambia with Sue Owens and other names he added during his enforced exile, Colin returns to the UK. He sees himself as the only person with the will and cold blooded efficiency to clean the streets of these criminals.

The key themes of this sequel are death, revenge and music. “Hang on! Did you say music?”

Absolutely! Colin Bailey is a meticulous planner and in ‘The Final Straw’ he and his wife Karen were regular visitors to their local pub for their Friday night ‘music fix’. Hard rock and heavy metal music were what got Colin’s juices flowing. He spent many hours planning how to dispose of the people on his list listening to tracks by Iron Maiden and Judas Priest on his Walkman while he was working underground at Leigh Park Mines.

If you recall, the opening line to ‘The Final Straw’ was – ‘Colin Bailey was invisible’. On his return in ‘Unfinished Business’, using the name Colin Owens to stay under the radar of Border Control, he becomes a roadie with a Canadian Iron Maiden tribute band touring the UK and Europe. He goes deeper under cover by adopting the name Owen Collins while on the road. The band begins the tour in Scotland and moves down the eastern coast of England, crossing over to Liverpool and Manchester before eventually heading south to London.

This was all familiar territory for me; in a previous life I sang with bands that played various types of music; the last band I was in were very much a hard rock outfit. We covered tracks by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream and Rory Gallagher (all new names on the scene back then!). These were all mixed up with our own material and we were LOUD! We travelled in our Transit van with our roadies, unlike Maiden’s Hair in the book; there was no tour bus for us! Travelling across the country, unloading our kit & getting set up for a gig, playing our set, then breaking the kit down & getting away to the next stop on our own musical mystery tour was part & parcel of our everyday lives for almost a decade. ‘Unfinished Business’ allowed me to make a sentimental return to the good old days in fiction at least; but back to the dark world of Colin Bailey and his quest!

Colin had seen that the band’s itinerary meant he could tick a few names off his list as he travelled across the country. Everything fitted! His plan was complete; he was scheduled for one last task at the end of the UK leg of the tour; this was when the band moved across to Europe and Colin could deal with the policeman whose continual harrying and frustrating might prove to deflect him from his mission – Phil Hounsell.

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Colin hadn’t missed a trick; by keeping an eye on the local news from that quiet West Country town where he had been brought up, he knew that Phil was married with two young children and was now living on the outskirts of the city of Bath. He knew too that Phil had been promoted and had moved on to work in London as part of what proved to be the short lived Serious Organised Crime Agency.

As each name on Colin’s list is ruthlessly eliminated Phil Hounsell teams up with several of his former West Country colleagues as they hunt down the stone cold killer. He also meets Zara Wheeler, also known as ‘Mouse’; she’s just over five feet tall, seven stones wringing wet, as sharp as a tack as regards police work but an innocent in the ways of the world. Is there romance? Time will tell; certainly Zara finds her new boss attractive and thrown together in difficult situations in far flung corners of the UK, who knows what could happen? A huge number of policemen’s marriages suffer due to the long, erratic hours and enforced separations.

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Other characters that play a significant role in the story are:

Erica Hounsell, Phil’s long suffering wife, who finds herself in danger when Colin wants to be left alone to continue with his task.

Frankie & Billy, the roadies that work alongside Owen Collins, totally unaware of what he is up to.

Therese Slater, a Manchester barmaid who falls for Colin and gives up everything to follow him wherever he may end up. Does Colin have feelings for her? The final scenes on the towpath by the Pulteney weir in Bath leave you with as many questions as answers!

This novel was intended to tie up the loose ends that remained on the final page of ‘The Final Straw’; however, after consultation with my wife (she spoke – I listened) there are new threads beginning at the end of ‘Unfinished Business’! Sorry, if you want to know where all these threads will lead you’ll have to read the book, and then the NEXT novel will make sense!

One of my readers wasn’t keen on me telling them what was going to happen in the following pages; I guess she wanted that ‘mystery’ element again. Someone once told me that to get the message across you needed to “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you’ve told them.”

I like to deal in facts not fantasy; the reality is that the world is a nasty place and although Colin Bailey may have an extreme way of improving it, sooner or later the streets will have to be cleaned. If this book helps to get that message across then it will have served a purpose. In the meantime, it’s a good yarn so they tell me ‘a thriller in every sense of the word’; ‘a gripper’; ‘difficult to put down once you’ve started’.

Sounds like just the book to pick up then?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unfinished-Business-Ted-Tayler-ebook/dp/B00J9V1DJI

For all your promotional needs and social media exposure par excellence I heartily recommend http://booksgosocial.wordpress.com

Deaths In The Family (the story of ‘The Final Straw’)

DEATHS IN THE FAMILY

This chapter will give new readers a chance to discover what ‘The Final Straw’, my first novel, was all about and hopefully persuade you there’s a good read just a click away! For those of you who have been with me on ‘The Long Hard Road’ from the beginning, it might just convince you to take a second look; maybe you should have read it when I told you about it last summer?

The key themes of the book are family drama, tragedy, death and revenge. The main character Colin Bailey has a dysfunctional family. His parents Adam and Jennifer virtually ignored him as he was growing up; he was clearly a ‘mistake’. Their own lives were complicated enough without the encumbrance of a child. Adam left his wife and son to live with another woman – without a backward glance. Jennifer had always played the field; let’s just say she ‘liked her bread buttered on both sides’. Colin was unloved, unwanted and a loner; he was bullied at school by the members of two local gangs; their leaders Leroy Ambrose and Scott Hall, headed up the young thugs that terrorised the quiet West Country town where Colin lived.

Colin somehow stumbled into a relationship with Karen Smith; she was plain & chubby but willing and Colin was completely unaware of her many previous partners. They were forced to marry and had a daughter Sharron. This little mite was the first person Colin had ever loved in his life and who of course loved him unreservedly in return.

As Colin grew from a young boy into a young man, his hatred for his parents and those thugs that had tormented him led him to write down a list of people that he would like to dispose of. As the drama unfolds we follow him ‘righting the wrongs’ he perceives have been done to him.

Whether you like Colin or not as a character it’s hard not to sympathise with him as he creates a safe haven for him, Karen and young Sharron, only for their happiness to be tragically torn apart. This was ‘The Final Straw’ that saw Colin embark on a path from which there was no turning back.

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Other characters in the book that play pivotal roles in the story line are:

Phil Hounsell is a Midlands born policeman who transfers into the West Country town and seems destined to be chasing Colin Bailey for most of his career.

Sue Owens is the wife of Colin’s employer at Leigh Park Mines. She who is a woman who knows exactly what she wants and isn’t shy about getting it!

Neil Cartwright, a six foot eight, eighteen stone, tattooed biker who is Colin’s only male friend. Of course, Colin’s naivety regarding relationships doesn’t augur well for the future of that friendship!

The book is set in the West Country where I have lived all my life. There are worked out mines within five miles of my house that have been used in wartime for military purposes, in the cold war on standby as underground bunkers for Prime Ministers and Cabinet members to be housed. In peace time all sorts of businesses have used the facilities to store items which benefit from the underground conditions. Leigh Park Mines don’t exist, but they are typical of the companies operating in the area.

As for the town itself, this is entirely fictitious; in fact it’s unnamed in the book. It represents a typical West Wiltshire town with its shops, official buildings and housing estates and sadly nowadays they all increasingly share the gang culture, drugs and criminal activity that the book portrays. Times have changed significantly since I was growing up!

How did ‘The Final Straw’ come to get written? My first book was autobiographical and I had no intention of writing anything more; except perhaps a sequel. My musical journey had ended prematurely and after the book was published in 2011 several of my former colleagues got in touch. We had a reunion gig in November 2012. A month later it was apparent that despite the success of the comeback, it was going to be impractical to repeat the experience, so I sat at the computer and wondered whether I had a fictional story to tell. Initially, the story started on another track entirely, but Colin Bailey was the main protagonist. I decided to fill in some of his ‘back story’ and typed ‘Colin Bailey was invisible.’ as an opening line.

That sentence inspired the rest of the book. The original story line was largely forgotten. The resulting story is fairly dark and the themes it deals with don’t generally have roses around the door and happy endings, so romance and mystery are thin on the ground. Life is pretty bleak in this quiet fictional town and my chosen style of writing means you get the facts warts and all!

All the characters in the book are based on real people. I’m not hidden away in there; no chance of that! A lot of friends and colleagues do appear though as a mixture of their first names & surnames. A quick glance at the newspapers & other media will support my view that these are all real people. The world is a nasty place I’m afraid.

Most reviews have been favourable so far and a quick read through on my website will tell you it’s an easy read. ‘The Final Straw’ was voted ‘Best Book Ever’ (Quality Reads UK Book Club) in September 2013. My ambition is to write books people enjoy reading; nothing more, nothing less.

Now I’ve whetted your appetite why not take the next step?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Final-Straw-Ted-Tayler-ebook/dp/B00D6HYWG2

For all your promotional needs and social media exposure par excellence I heartily recommend http://booksgosocial.wordpress.com

THE NEVER ENDING SEARCH

THE NEVER ENDING SEARCH

Sorry I’ve been away so long! Okay, there have been a couple of writing related posts to keep you amused but it’s been ages since I let you know what’s actually been going on.

Towards the end of August Lynne & I joined up with our daughter Kim, husband Malcolm and dog Bailey, for a holiday in West Wales. Our accommodation was a converted barn on the outskirts of Newcastle Emlyn. This was perfect as a base camp to explore the area from Tenby in the south towards Aberystwyth in the north; we didn’t venture too far from the coast though as the walks and the views were spectacular.

I won’t bore you with all the details; if you’ve been you know the places we visited anyway & if you haven’t then I suggest you get down there as soon as you can. It’s well worth a visit! A brief summary of our thoroughly enjoyable week included:-

A boat trip to Caldey Island with dolphins swimming a hundred yards from the boat on the way out and long nature walks that sharpened the appetite for the chocolate factory shop’s delights!

There were visits to Aberaeron, New Quay and Aberporth which all left a lasting impression; plus a trip to St David’s on a very warm afternoon which kept us all amused. We enjoyed/endured long bracing walks during the daytime (on Poppit Sands to name but one); evenings were spent drinking & playing cards while keeping an eye out for the massive spiders that crept inside. Where did we eat? Two places warrant a mention, Yasmin’s the Indian restaurant in the village was superb value for money, while the Bunch of Grapes (also in the main street) served excellent food. We couldn’t tell you what their starters or desserts were like though as the main courses were more than sufficient to satisfy our taste buds!

Since we returned home we’ve caught up with our other children, their partners and the grandchildren. This week the little darlings were either returning to school or setting off on their educational adventure. As for Lynne & I, we’ve pottered around in the garden and started looking forward to our next trip abroad. We’re off to Majorca for some sunshine in a week or so, and then I’ve been told that I’m starting on my next novel! The Boss has given me her orders!

In the ‘Fiat Lux’ chapter I told you about getting in touch with some school colleagues from the early 60s. ‘Let There Be Light’ was our school motto and it was on the badge we had to have on our school blazers during our time at Trowbridge Boys High School. We plan to meet up again in October; progress has been slow in tracking down any more lost souls to swell our number.

I got side tracked after I got back from Wales! I was on LinkedIn checking out a few names when I idly requested information on one John Clarke; who hadn’t been at school with us at all! In fact he had worked for a computer whizkid who had introduced a ground breaking forecasting program into the company I worked for. John helped us increase our knowledge at a London computer bureau and subsequently showed us the delights of early personal computers. It was work, but with a large social twist & lunchtimes in London at the MM club and the Goat In Boots became legendary! He’s retired now & has just returned from a holiday in Canada; we’re planning to arrange a good catch up in the future.

I think the reason all this nostalgia business is taking over my spare time is because the book tours, the search for reviews and incessant promotional gimmicks I’ve had to resort to, have left me feeling frustrated. ‘Not for the first time!’ I hear you cry. That’s true enough; I’ve felt like packing it in on several occasions, but then every now & then a little boost comes along & gives you hope.

The ‘Unfinished Business’ review I requested via Reader’s Favorite eventually surfaced; a couple of months ago they had passed on a five star review of ‘A Sting In The Tale’ which was great news. This time it was a five star review for the sequel to ‘The Final Straw’. This is some of what Anne Marie Reynolds had to say:

“This was a thriller in every sense of the word. A real gripper and once I picked it up; I couldn’t put it down again until it was over. Starting slowly ‘Unfinished Business’ picked up pace and each chapter ended in such a way that stopping reading simply wasn’t an option; this was one of those rare books that pull a reader into the story & holds on tight, not letting go not even at the end. A round of applause to Ted Tayler; a brilliant writer & storyteller.”

That was certainly one of the ‘plus’ sides of the past month or so; another has been the feedback from the Review Seeker’s Facebook Page, There were only a couple of ‘takers’ from the adverts I posted for the three books; some of that was possibly my fault, perhaps I wasn’t persuasive enough? I didn’t post very often over the first three months either; I didn’t want to appear pushy! What I did do was ask whether the other writers suffered as I did in spending weeks seeking out potential reviewers. A lively discussion followed which provided some useful links and new contacts. How things progress from here only time will tell, but it’s good to know you’re not alone!

The book tours have been disappointing with the projected dates being all over the place; it was so much better last summer. There are potentially over sixty reviews to come, so maybe some good will be salvaged from the wreckage. I won’t be going down that route again. Pasture’s new next time I feel!

I have a few gripes about some of the bloggers and review sites too! I’ve wasted loads of time checking out possible leads from ‘umbrella’ sites that suggested I check out those offering ‘free promo & reviews’. So many of them have shut down; some aren’t taking any books due to the backlog they have to get through; some only read YA, MG, Fantasy, Dystopian, Steampunk, Romance or Kid’s books; but you only really discover this when you’ve drilled down through the minutiae. Then there are those that won’t touch an ebook or a self published item. How ‘sniffy’ is that in 2014 for heaven’s sake? The world has moved on and reviewers need to move with it.

All I want to do is ask politely for a review, having checked out that the reviewer is available & interested in the genre that my book is written in, then we agree a time frame for them to give my offering the time they need, then they tell me & the public at large whether it’s any good or not. Anything that facilitates that has to be a good thing. I just feel they could help us writers sort out which sites are right for us to approach with a few appropriate symbols on the links to their web pages. This would save us wasting their time and ours. Answers on a post card.

I’ll try to get back to you a little quicker next time; once the holiday is over I’ll be thinking about that next novel & school will be beckoning for some of my time. My last season of snooker as a Secretary will be well underway by then too. Another busy autumn & winter stretches out before us! Happy days!

Inside The Mind Of The Author

my familyInside The Mind of the Author

Tell us about yourself: – I’m sixty eight years of age; I’ve been married for almost forty three years to Lynne. We have three grown up children who are all married and have flown the nest! We have four grandchildren, one step grand daughter and a step great grand daughter – so far. I started my working life in a bank, and then joined a tyre company as an accountant. I was made redundant after thirty four years and I took early retirement.

What made you start writing: – A friend asked if the ‘war’ stories I had from my days in groups were written down anywhere for posterity. I replied that they were just in my head; four years later they were in a book. I had always read voraciously from a young age and written stuff while I was at school. Life got in the way of the writing but I’ve always read.

Do you have any favourite authors: – Ian Rankin; Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens. I don’t know whether I’ve been influenced by any of them but I love to read their work. I hope something has rubbed off because it couldn’t hurt could it!

Do you have a strong online presence: – Apart from this website where you can follow my blog? If you check out Facebook you’ll find my Author’s page at https://facebook.com/EdwardCTayler
You can follow me on Twitter on https://twitter.com/@ted_tayler
My books are all over the place! Amazon, BooksGoSocial, Orangeberry, Smashwords, Goodreads, World Literary Café and Independent Author Network so there’s no excuse!

Tell us about your latest book: – ‘Unfinished Business’ is the sequel to my first novel ‘The Final Straw’ and it sees Colin Bailey return to the UK after almost a decade abroad. With a new name and a new face he still has scores to settle. His meticulous planning takes him ingeniously across Scotland and the North of England ticking names off his list with the police completely baffled.
DCI Phil Hounsell pitted his wits against Colin before and so he is sent to Durham where he teams up with super intelligent young DS Zara Wheeler; together they track their man to Manchester and then eventually south to Bath.
The final scenes take place on the streets of the Roman city; Phil Hounsell’s family is threatened and in a dramatic conclusion reminiscent of Holmes and Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, the two men struggle above the foaming waters of the historic Pulteney weir.

What’s your favourite genre to read: – Crime thrillers without question

Which do you do more, read or write and why: – I write more than I read; I research more than I read too! I wish I could find more time to read; there are so many titles I’ve seen in the last four years that I want to get to but writing and trying to get reviews and sales leaves precious little spare time.

Have you ever studied the art of writing: – No fear! I know that technically I could be a lot better but the way I do it now, flying by the seat of my pants, means I enjoy every word I write. Imagine how much of a bind it would become if I had to go back over every sentence or paragraph to see if I’ve broken some ‘golden’ rule. I know it’s not perfect but my writing reflects its writer!

How To Make Your Characters Believable

How To Make Your Characters Believable
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When I started writing in 2006 I was merely getting down on paper a series of stories that I had been telling people for years. That book of memories described real people and the things we actually did together. I wasn’t creating characters or setting out to make the people I was writing about ‘believable’ for the reader. Basically, I told it how it was. They were real people and real events.

In December 2012 when I started writing ‘The Final Straw’ I only had a vague idea of the outline of the story. If you have read any of my previous posts from last year then you know what happened next! I typed ‘Colin Bailey was invisible’ as my opening line and that sketchy plan was lost forever. Ninety five thousand words later it was done.

The book dealt with sexual awakening, broken families, hatred, revenge, multiple murders and a few other subjects into the bargain. Some people say that it helps if your readers empathize with your characters and find them believable and enjoyable. If they do then the style in which you present your work and the plot will be more acceptable too. Other people advise writers to try and write about what they know.

It looks like I missed those signposts doesn’t it! Very few of my characters are ‘enjoyable’. Most of them reflect the society we live in and therefore are painted in darker terms rather than light. No matter what my enemies say behind my back there are no bodies buried under the patio, nor is there a little black list of people that I would cheerfully dispose of! So I wasn’t writing from experience! I just try to write about characters we have all read about in the papers or seen on TV; sadly there are plenty of the types of people in my books to choose from!

I try to describe the setting in which the action takes place; I use a light touch as far as possible and the reader can paint their own pictures; there’s nothing worse than reading a description of a building or a person that is so detailed that it feels like the author is dragging you by the ear, leading you to No10 Woodside Terrace and shouting ‘Here it is! This is the where the murders took place! Can’t you see?’

I give some background to the characters so you know where they come from, I tell you their age and what their given name or nickname is. I give you a general idea of what they look like but for a lot of my characters I leave the reader to give them a face. In ‘Unfinished Business’ Zara Wheeler is around twenty five years old, seven stones wringing wet and she wears glasses. Her colleagues have noted that she wrinkles her nose and blushes profusely when she’s embarrassed. They call her ‘Mouse’. She’s super intelligent and lives at home with elderly parents. There are a few other character traits and background that emerge as the story unfolds, it isn’t necessary to lay it on with a trowel when the character makes their first appearance, they can be added as the story line evolves. Even if a character is only a minor one with a brief appearance centre stage, it is important the detail of what they look like and their background is there.

At times I have to give the reader a ‘true’ picture of my characters. On the front cover of ‘Unfinished Business’ you can see Zara, her boss DCI Phil Hounsell and the stone cold killer Colin Bailey. The images match my own ideas of what they would look like and any future books will need to reflect those images as the characters move forward.

Your characters need to be flawed, just like the rest of us and I think that helps them to be believable.

FIAT LUX! THE SEARCH BEGINS

FIAT LUX! THE SEARCH BEGINS

Welcome back! The weather continues to dominate the headlines.

On the Thursday night we had had the worst thunder storm I’d heard in thirty years. On the Friday night I left the bar early after another successful live music fix because I knew another storm was brewing; plus, I needed to be up early, bright eyed & bushy tailed for the birthday girl’s big day. I walked home in a light shower and ten minutes after I lay my head on the pillow the heavens opened & the ensuing electrical storm with Keith Moon leading the percussion section made the previous night’s storm seem like a spell of ‘light drizzle’!

Saturday morning arrived hot and humid; the clouds gathered around us and at ten in the morning we had the lights on! Kim & Mal arrived from South Wales with enough food to feed a regiment around noon. We had already had more thunder & lightning and torrential rain. The rest of the family arrived – more in hope than expectation. ‘Great idea Dad, a BBQ?’

I was too polite to point out it hadn’t been my original choice for the day. At about half past two the younger, fitter family members erected the large gazebo. With about five of our party putting the finishing touches to our shelter, the heavens opened yet again. It was carnage! They were stranded. Despite the fact that the back door was only three strides away, they were cut off; any thoughts of a rescue had to shelved until the rain relented!

As I stood in the safety of our dining room I looked at their shelter. If there are any young soldiers reading this then you may have signed up under our gazebo on a recruiting day! It had been requisitioned by our son in law & still carried the honourable name and crest of the regiment. The rain stopped. Our building crew were brought back to dry land and as three o’clock approached the sun broke through the clouds!

The rest of my wife’s birthday is a bit of a blur; the drink continued to flow; the BBQ food was superb & was supplemented by a few dozen extras that Lynne had thought might be needed if the weather stubbornly refused to play ball. When everyone went home many hours later we thanked our lucky stars that Mal had brought the gazebo. It had shaded us from the sun and prevented the grand-kids’ delicate young skins from getting burnt. Who would have thought that at half past two!

If you recall I was on a trip down memory lane on Monday. David Maunder; Chris Walker; Tony Longdon; Roger Raisey & Peter Vooght had their names taken on the register at The Barge. I joined them about half an hour later than planned. The weather was beautiful; all threat of thunder had receded. I decided to walk from our house to the pub by the canal. I reckoned it would take me forty minutes; but my legs are shorter these days as I get older & it took an hour.

There were a couple of others who had provided a sick note, but would certainly be available if we arranged to meet up again. We six had a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so, chatting and filling in some of the gaps in our lives since we last saw one another in Wingfield Road, Trowbridge all those years ago. Since then we have contacted several more students and although we have stopped short of calling it a ‘reunion’ we will definitely have some informal get togethers while we still can. The search is on for the remainder of the class of ’61!

The book promotions on Twitter through BooksGoSocial and all its associated sites continue apace. The Orangeberry Book Tour is slowing down now but no matter; I have plenty more irons in the fire these days and I’m rejuvenated. Roll on October, when I start writing the next novel!

It’s Friday evening; so I’m off out in a few minutes for an evening of loud rock music. The night is warm and dry. Happy days! Tomorrow lunch time we’re off to have a meal with my brother in law. A late birthday treat for Lynne. Family means so much to both of us and we’re off to Bridport in a week or so to meet up with other family members who we haven’t seen in far too long! Before you know it we’ll be in that holiday cottage in West Wales with Kim & Mal. Tempus fugit! Heck, where did all this Latin come from? It must have been meeting up with all those former classmates.

Keep smiling & I’ll be back in a week or two with all the latest news!

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES!

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES!

Welcome back! After a few blog chapters where all I’ve had to report was ‘doom & gloom’ regarding my health and my lack of progress on the book front, this chapter has at least some refreshingly upbeat content. So it’s safe for you to read on!

My return to listening to late night ‘live’ music was a success! The band was great and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening with no unpleasant after effects. I was all set to repeat the medicine the following Friday but unfortunately the band cancelled at the last minute & I was saved from the dreaded disco by a sudden downpour. I decided to stay in to watch the football instead and kept Jack Daniels company on the sofa.

Everything was fine last Friday and another ‘fix’ of hard rock was ready & waiting when I strolled into the bar at half past ten. I finally got the feeling that I was back in the fold! Things are on the up!

I’m looking forward to this weekend; there will be a quick visit to the Parson’s Nose for a listen to the ‘live’ band on offer but I can’t be too enthusiastic on the JD because it’s the wife’s birthday on Saturday. My daughter Kim & I have been scheming for weeks! We planned a surprise meal out with all the family & ‘Muggins’ booked twelve of us into a local restaurant for early in the evening. The best laid plans eh? Not everyone could make it; so we abandoned the meal idea & cancelled the booking. ‘Why don’t we have a BBQ?’ says Kim. All of a sudden everyone can make it again! Happy days! Well maybe; it’s not a surprise anymore for one; Lynne knows about the new arrangements & the weather forecast looks like the thunder storms will hit us fair & square on Saturday.

We could have been watching the thunder & lightning from a safe distance & laughed at the rain lashing horizontally past the leaded windows of a very nice restaurant. Instead twelve of us might well be huddled on our patio, with soggy burgers, singing ‘Happy Birthday to Lynne’!

Timing is everything isn’t it? Last weekend was when I wanted the heavens to open! We still have what they laughingly call a Carnival procession that winds its way through the streets of our town. This year’s procession was pathetic. Despite all the undoubted effort put in by the handful of floats that appeared you couldn’t disguise the fact that the turnout of participants was minimal. It took a long time to pass us by, but this was because of the gaps that built up over the long winding course the procession takes. There were in effect four processions, spread out so that we were stood chatting to our neighbours on the side of the road for forty minutes. If the gaps had been eliminated the whole thing would have been over for another year in ten at the most!

I’m not a lover of Carnival. Now this may have come as a shock, so let me elaborate. When I was a child we had a ‘real’ Carnival; it lasted a week. It was held later in the year, with all sorts of events throughout the town. There was a Torchlight procession one evening in the middle of the week; I suppose Health & Safety killed that off? We had a designated Carnival field with a large fair in place all week. Dozens of side shows and rides, plus an arena where circus and daredevil acts performed to packed audiences.

It was the Procession on the Saturday though that was the highlight. It was the early Fifties and the RAF station was still open just outside town. Five miles up the road there was a Naval shore base where Marines were being trained. A couple of local towns had Brass and/or Silver Bands. A typical procession had seven or eight marching bands on display; there were floats and walking entries from our own pubs, clubs and local organisations together with floats from the local towns who were building their reputation ahead of the ‘BIG’ parade at the County Carnival at Pewsey later in the month. You didn’t have to pad the display out with local firms advertising their businesses & spread the Queen, her assistants, a Princess – oh & a Prince – (Saints preserve us I think we had a Grandmother there too this year!) across a fleet of open topped limousines. The major transport firm in the town provided a flatbed lorry with a canopy in case of a shower or two and the Queen had a proper throne with her assistants at her feet, firmly put in their place. These days they’re all chucked in together & you can’t tell who’s who!

Carnival died towards the end of the Sixties. The nation had moved on from those years of the post war period where we embraced any excuse to celebrate our freedom and the excitement of a new monarch. People’s tastes changed; the vast majority were watching TV, not packing the streets in eager anticipation of a Pram Derby from the top of town to the bottom. Sadly, our little town didn’t get the message; most of our neighbours did and they realised the glory days were well behind them. It all became very parochial; no visits from rival floats; fewer and fewer marching bands; fewer activities through the week as fewer & fewer people cared enough to volunteer to run them. Even the Carnival field was lost; various farmers sold their land to be turned into one more nondescript housing estate after another.

Unfortunately, our town has carried on flogging a dead horse. Maybe after this year’s debacle they’ll see the light. If only the heavens had opened! You can’t turn the clock back & re-create those halcyon days.

And yet, that is exactly what I’ve been persuaded to do by an old school colleague! He wrote to the local weekly paper searching out students from the grammar school in Trowbridge where I spent most of my teens. He wanted to contact as many of the sixty odd students from the ’61 ‘O Level’ year who were still with us & meet up for a glass or three of something palatable to chat over old times. On the Monday after Lynne’s birthday, when the weather will be wonderful no doubt as the storm clouds have disappeared, I shall make my way to a canal side tavern and meet up with perhaps eight to ten people I haven’t seen for fifty three years. What on earth was I thinking? How will I recognise them? I don’t think we’ve agreed to wear short trousers and a navy blue jacket (with ‘Fiat Lux’ emblazoned on it) so it will be a tester!

I’ll report back in my next chapter and tell you how it went. If you don’t hear from me then someone I didn’t get on with at school turned up & my body is in the canal. I just hope they have a decent Shiraz on offer in the tavern so that the lunchtime passes in a comfortable haze.

As far as the book tour goes, you can still follow up the remaining dates via this link:

http://www.orangeberrybooktours.com/2014/05/ob-phoenix-30-ted-tayler/

What a difference a day makes! I’m not sure which day but someone mentioned me in a tweet & as I glanced at the profile of the person who had posted it to see if I knew them (I didn’t) I saw another post which featured BooksGoSocial. Now as you know, over the past three years I’ve chased down dozens of sites which promised the earth and delivered sweet nothing. I’ve given you a ‘blow by blow’ description. There was something about this one that tempted me to follow the link. As you know from the last few chapters of my blog, I’ve been getting a tad disillusioned & wondering whether to stop banging my head against the proverbial.

Ah well, it was too good an offer to turn down! So we’re off on a journey, twelve months into the unknown. Twelve months of promotion for my latest three books starting with ‘The Final Straw’. Watch out for Twitter blasts here there & everywhere. Time will tell of course & you’ll read about the first few steps on the journey in my next chapter.

If you want to check these guys out for yourself, be my guest

www.booksgosocial.wordpress.com
www.yourasms.com
www.lpobryan.com

Happy days! Back soon!

EVERY DAY HAS A NEW CHALLENGE

EVERY DAY HAS A NEW CHALLENGE

The past ten weeks have been the most frustrating weeks of my life! Apart from my health suddenly going from ‘fine and dandy’ to feeling like crap inside twelve hours, the road to recovery has also been littered with further annoying obstacles that made me feel it was three steps forward and two steps back all the time! If I was lucky! If not it was the opposite!

I have always enjoyed the summer months and have looked forward to working at school during the examination season. This year though, I’ve missed significant sections of it and that’s been frustrating too. Okay, 90% of the kids we look after for several years as they move through school and their different exam levels leave us & we never see or hear from them again; but a few others remain life long friends. Either way I like to wish them well when they go out into the big bad world. I’ve missed my goodbyes to a helluva lot of this year’s leavers.

The book tours too have had their frustrating moments as has been well documented in previous blog chapters. Because I haven’t felt fit enough to get stuck into much research, nor been inclined to go chasing reviews etcetera, then things have gradually slipped away from me. The reviews via the tours will eventually kick in, as will several from the supreme effort I put in during March and April. Maybe all the stress that built up during that period was the catalyst for the sudden deterioration in my well being. Who knows? Unfortunately though, I don’t feel the payback will be enough to generate the sort of book sales that will encourage me to pursue my dream of writing TWO series beginning this autumn.

Indeed looking towards the itinerary for July and August it feels like a long shot that anything rewarding will come from all the work I have managed to put in. Regardless of which way things pan out, I can hold my head up high and say I gave it my best shot. For the time being getting as fit and well as possible has to take priority.

The book tour has several intermittent stops to make while the Orangeberry Expo is under way as you can see below. Some time in late July and early August a few authors will be rewarded with a nomination for one of the many categories on offer and voting will get under way. For the chosen few their lives will be hectic for a month; just like mine was last year! Perhaps I’ll be fortunate enough to join them again; maybe my turn has come and gone? Time will tell.

If you get a chance to drop in on any of these sites over the next few weeks, I’ll be very grateful:

28th June – Guest Post at Page Turning Books
29th June – Excerpt at Books & Beyond
6th July – (*17)Book Review & Guest Post at Reading My Addiction
13th July- Author Interview at Top Shelf Books
20th July – Orangeberry Book of the Day
27th July – Tweet Me A Storm with OB Book Tours
3rd August – (*18)Book Review & Guest Post at Pages to Covers
10th August – Excerpt at Zoo of Books
17th August – (*19)Book Review & Author Interview at Book Lover’s Dream
24th August – Guest Post at Journey’s thru Books
31st August – (*20)Excerpt at Yesterday’s Book
7th September – Guest Post & Book Feature at Life Altering Reads

I’m off out this evening. Nothing unusual in that you think; well, it’s my first Friday night out to listen to a band in ten weeks! Another challenge! Can I get through the experience unscathed? If I do, then you’ll hear all about it in my next chapter; if not then it will be as soon as I am well enough to post the next one!

Take care of yourselves; enjoy the weekend and I look forward to getting back in touch with you shortly.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ENGLISH

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ENGLISH

I read an article by Tony Parsons the other morning. It reminded me just how important it is that we never forget who we are, or where we came from and that we always stand up for the values our parents instilled in us. The essentials of what he wrote that struck a particular chord with me were as follows:-

‘We are a gentle, tolerant, welcoming people and yet we are ferocious when provoked.’
‘We love animals and hate bullies.’
‘We love freedom and we hate people who aren’t polite.’
‘We love our neighbours but never remove our fences.’

These fundamentally English values have taken a hammering over recent years and there are people in this country, some of them in positions of power and influence, who would seek to dilute those values or undermine and eventually abandon them completely. While we have breath in our bodies these values must never be taken away from us.

I am neither a political nor a religious man. I search in vain for ‘None of the above’ when asked to choose between one political party and another; the same applies when religion raises its ugly head. None of the options available seem to have much to recommend them.

I am not a racist! I have worked with, played with and entertained people from all corners of the globe & I have had no problems with any of them, provided they were good people. If they were, then they were fine by me. After all, as an Englishman I was merely following in the footsteps of my ancestors. As a nation we have welcomed people to our shores for over two thousand years.

Where I take issue with the current state of affairs is that we appear to be happy to let anyone in; good, bad and indifferent. In some extreme cases these people turn out to be downright evil and we have a helluva job getting rid of them when this fact is uncovered!

When I was growing up in post war England, I read about the grip that various criminal organisations exercised on the daily life of people in America’s big cities. The trafficking of drugs was already big business throughout the States, whereas in my neck of the woods drugs were as rare as hen’s teeth. The situation was worse in the major cities admittedly, but it was by no means of epidemic proportions. I shook my head in disbelief at the foreign countries who still thought that domestic & sexual slavery was acceptable; I shuddered at whole continents where the exploitation of children was a fact of life. I thanked my lucky stars I was English and that those horrors could never threaten our shores.

Fifty years on we’re overrun with evil people of all colours and creeds and the police and the judicial system are powerless to stem the tide. How the hell did we let things get as bad as this?

Our cities are being strangled by organised gangs from all four corners of the world. Drugs are in every town and village the length and breadth of the country. My own quiet West Country town has seen reports of domestic slavery & sexual exploitation; when I was a teenager the local paper reported on a man being fined a few shillings for cycling at night without lights! How times change!

Instead of a lot of hot air being wasted on whether we should curb immigration or pull out of Europe surely we should be asking a basic question about the population we have here today.
Are they good or bad? If they’re good people then they should be welcomed with open arms. If they’re bad (and believe me there are thousands for who ‘bad’ doesn’t even come close!) then we have to be strong enough to say ‘enough is enough’ and deal with them. Either we deport them or we jail them for as long as the law permits.

Have you ever tried to get an entry visa to Australia? If you have a criminal record – forget it! (This is quite funny when you cast your mind back. Sadly, it’s the only touch of humour in the whole sorry episode.) They seem to be able to pick and choose who they let in; meanwhile we are fast becoming the world’s dustbin and we need to wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones who can empty it of our rubbish.

A complete switch of topic, now I’ve got that off my chest! My health has improved to the extent that I’ve managed a week at school as we finish off the examination cycle for another academic year. Next week will see a few more ‘mock’ exams for various Year students and then I’ll be on ‘holiday’ until September.

The book tour continues and today sees a Twitter Blast at Orangeberry Book Tours. The rest of the schedule is set out below.

20th June – Twitter Blast with OB Book Tours
21st June – Orangeberry Sidebar
22nd June – Book Review & Author Interview at Working for Books
–Book Review & Excerpt at Nose in Books
– Author Interview at High Class Books
28th June – Guest Post at Page Turning Books
29th June – Excerpt at Books & Beyond

Enjoy the weekend weather; take care of yourselves and I look forward to getting back in touch with you next weekend.