The Invisible Thread

Book Two in The Freeman Files series has been completed. ‘Last Orders’ will be published in mid-January, around 4 weeks after ‘Fatal Decision.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I postponed starting #3 ‘Pressure Point’ because I needed to focus on some changes to my earlier works. Back in 2017 I thought I needed a 4 book Box Set after I’d finished the eighth title in The Phoenix Series. It would have been far more sensible to split the series into sets of three. That’s what I’ve been tackling over the past ten days. So, nine books refurbished and three new box sets in the pipeline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many of you have read #7, ‘Something Wicked Draws Near’?

Can you tell me what happened to the man responsible for the death of the young Ghanaian girl Awusi Debrah?

I thought not. That story thread was never resolved… until now. I closed the loop in #8, ‘Evil Always Finds A Way’. It was only a few sentences, but it satisfied my desire to tie  up all the loose ends before I finally put The Phoenix Series to bed.

That was a lesson learned. I try to make meticulous notes for each story thread and tag them as needing to be picked up and resolved in a later chapter, or even the next book. The tag should never get removed until I’ve dealt with it. Poor Awusi Debrah disappeared into the ice-house for Giles Burke and his team to investigate and the file was mislaid.

Mea culpa. I believe it’s the only occasion so far in seven years.

An update on my health. I told you things move at a snail’s pace in the NHS. My appointment is on November 22nd. How long after that the operation will take place, who knows? So far, nothing is stopping me from writing, although if you find a typo in this I have an excuse ready and waiting.

I’ll be back with another update in around four weeks.

Take care and best wishes. 

 

Ted Tayler

Here We Go Again

I’ve lost count of the occasions when it’s been tempting to use the phrase ‘three steps forward two steps back’ in my writing career. If memory serves I posted an item with that headline on this blog a few years ago. There were some days when I thought the situation was reversed and progress wasn’t being made at all. I hope I’m more philosophical these days.

 In the four weeks since my last post I’ve finished writing ‘Fatal Decision’ #1 in the Freeman Files Series. My sternest critic has read it and she pronounced it the best thing I’ve written to date.

That spurred me on to start on ‘Last Orders’ book #2 so that I took advantage of the rhythm I had finally achieved when the first book neared completion. Three thousand words a day was being achieved with comfort.

I carried that on for the next five days or so and now book two is 25% done. However, it’s been tough going. Without spoiling the plot of either book, the first had a victim with a decent sized family and lots of people with whom she came into contact. Gus Freeman and his team had at least a dozen interviews to undertake. There was background to the new characters to be revealed and the setting to be explained.  

The scenario I’ve chosen for the second story has only thrown up a handful of potential witness interviews so far and there are less introductions to be made. I’m trying hard to avoid the ‘flashback overkill’ that a lot of series writers suffer from. That’s fine in principle but in practice it means a lot more creative writing.

August has never been a great time for book promotions for me. I thought with summer holidays at their peak people would be searching for something to read on the beach. That was a ‘step back’ last month for sure. My return on investment was poor.

The other setback concerned my health. Cataracts had formed on both eyes maybe fifteen years ago, they were slow growing, but it was inevitable they would need to be removed at some point. I went for a consultation a fortnight ago expecting to get a date for the procedure on the left eye in six weeks time (early October).

However, I learned I have a membrane growing on the back of the left eye too and need to see a retinal surgeon to determine what happens next. Naturally, this would be a more complex operation if it was required and my plans of writing four of the six Freeman books before Christmas may have to be put on hold.

I’ll be back in four weeks with an update on progress on the book. As far as the other problem’s concerned, I doubt if I’ll have got an appointment by then knowing the parlous state of the NHS. C’est la vie or Here we go again.

Take care and best wishes. 

Ted Tayler

 

Voices Inside My Head

This time last year I was convinced my writing was done. The Phoenix Series was complete and the desire to start something new was lacking. However, March brought more than a shed load of downloads and subsequent sales. It provided the spur I needed to get moving again.

I previewed the main characters of my next series ‘The Freeman Files’ in the past two blog posts and began writing #1 ‘Fatal Decision’ in mid-July. Twenty thousand words in so far. I’m on schedule for the first four books of the six-book series to be finished by December.

That first book will be published in time for Christmas and as well as writing books #5 & #6 in the New Year, the remaining books will be published far more rapidly than in the past. So, by mid-May the series will be ‘live’ in full.

Not writing for a year meant this past three weeks have been a struggle, I must admit. I hoped to achieve 3000 words per day as I had when I was writing regularly. I was lucky to get a thousand at the outset. Fortunately, I’ve had a couple of better days recently. The rhythm is coming back.

I never had the benefit of higher education and the technical aspects professional writers refer to go right over my head. I draft a skeleton format for a story. I decide on my characters and put flesh on the bones. For all my previous books I carried those characters around inside my head, so they could talk to me, and tell me where they wanted to go.

Then, when I started writing, I would know roughly where each chapter was drafted to reach, but the characters regularly changed their minds and took the story in an unexpected direction. We’d reach the ending I planned for the book, but not always via the route I’d expected.

This past weekend I had a dream. Sometimes we forget what they were all about don’t we? In ‘Fatal Decision’ Gus Freeman has to solve a cold case from a decade earlier. I had drafted the skeleton story line, I knew the killer, but I didn’t have the intermediate clues to sprinkle through the chapters that would explain why they were guilty.

I woke up at about five in the morning. The road ahead was now clear. The conversations the characters had in my dream stayed long enough for me to jot down the salient points. I’ve always kept a notepad and pen by my bed. You never know when an idea will spring up.

Not everyone will know the identity of the killer from the first clue, but it will all make sense in the end. Now all we have to do is write the remaining chapters. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Those main characters are inside my head for five more books after this one. I’m sure I’ll need their help solving the other mysteries.

Take care and best wishes.  I’ll be back in September.

 

 

 

Introducing the supporting cast

Last month I gave you a progress report on The Freeman Files my new cold case series. Well, the first chapters are about to get underway.

The decorators have left the building, at last. A protracted visit it must be said and my wife & I escaped to one of our twin daughters at the weekend. We needed to get away from the place. There was a lot of tidying, curtain fitting and drawers to be re-filled; plus, some actual de-cluttering that required visits to the recycling site.

It’s affectionately termed ‘the dump’ over here. You may recognise the term, but if you didn’t, you get the picture. Where did we get all this clutter from, anyway? We’re both de-stressed now and ready for the next phase of the operation. Meanwhile, the writing life stumbles on.

Let me introduce you to the members of DI Gus Freeman’s team.

Detective Sergeant Alex Hardy is 38 years old, single and confined to a wheelchair. He has been assigned to the Crime Review Team as part of his rehabilitation. Alex joined the police after university and his passion for motorbikes saw him train as a qualified pursuit officer. Twenty months ago, he was seriously injured in a high-speed crash while chasing a suspect.

Alex is adamant he will eventually recover sufficiently to resume active duties. This struggle will form part of the background theme to the six books. Will he achieve his goals? You’ll have to read the books to find out, I’m afraid. I’ll be discovering how far he gets myself. He has mental and physical barriers to overcome and his superiors will need some convincing to alter their opinion that a desk job is as good as its going to get.

Forensic Psychology graduate Lydia Logan Barre is a 25-year-old firebrand. She’s full of righteous zeal, with opinions on every aspect of modern policing. This is bound to put her on a collision course with Gus Freeman and his ‘old school’ approach. Lydia’s birth mother was Scottish, and her father Nigerian. Lydia was born in Edinburgh and adopted at birth by a white couple living in Dundee. She had a happy childhood, in spite of racial bullying at school, and remains close to her adoptive parents. At first, she wanted to be an actress and attended part-time classes at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. She switched her focus to an MSc at Glasgow Caledonian University, and this will be her first ‘proper’ job.

Detective Sergeant Neil Davis followed in his father’s footsteps. Terry Davis was a DS with the same force back in 2001. Terry appeared in my first novel ‘The Final Straw’. He was already 48 years old then and his career path was firmly at a dead end. He retired to Southern Spain in 2011 and has no intentions of returning to these shores. Neil must face some uncomfortable truths as cold cases from his father’s time are among those re-visited by the Crime Review Team. Neil is 28, recently married, and a rising star on a fast-track to higher things. Unless he’s cut from the same cloth as his father, of course; is he someone Gus needs to be wary of? Time will tell.

That’s the team. What will I be doing until my next update? Getting to grips with those opening chapters of ‘Fatal Decision’ the first book in the series.

I won’t bore you with the list of mundane tasks that remain to be tackled at Casa Tayler. I’m feeling good at the minute. I don’t want a relapse. They’ll all get done, somehow. My wife is confident I can fit the writing in during the gaps. It pays not to argue. Forty-eight years’ experience – in case you wondered. Find out whether I made it in early August when I’m sure there will be other tales to tell.

Take care and best wishes. 

 

Sowing The Seeds

Five weeks ago, I was heading to Ibiza for a holiday in the sun. I took plenty of reading material, plus paper and pens to jot down plot ideas for the new series. I had a great time… and apart from a few random thoughts I scribbled on the homeward flight, I admit to achieving very little.

Almost as soon as I arrived home a horde of window fitters, swiftly followed by a team of painters/decorators invaded my quiet retirement. Have you ever tried writing under those conditions? It’s not easy. However, I’ve somehow completed the research for the six titles in The Freeman Files and I can share my progress.

The image shows the covers I’ve purchased for the series. I think they represent the cold case mystery/police procedural very well. I hope you agree. I decided to get them before I started to write. After a year without metaphorically picking up my pen I needed the spur to get me back in the game. The schedule remains the same. Three books in 2019 with #1 published in time for Christmas. The remaining three books to be ready by the end of April 2020. I’m aiming for a more rapid release on these titles than in the past. So, the final title will be up for grabs by the end of May. 

So, who is the leading man and what sets him apart from other police procedural staple characters out there?

Gus Freeman is 61 years old. The retired Detective Inspector lives in a village on the outskirts of the West Country town where my first novels were set. A fictional town that borrows elements from the half-dozen small towns that surround my family home. It lies approximately ten miles from the Roman city of Bath – which is where The Phoenix series was centered. Larcombe Manor stood several miles out of the city, closer to Bristol and the coast.

Freeman has spent the past 3 years tending his allotment. A peculiar British tradition that is a carry-over from WWII and the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign. As he surveys his handiwork sitting outside his garden shed he ponders his night-time reading. He’s a fan of Kierkegaard the Danish author considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.

Freeman’s wife, Tess, died from a brain aneurysm six months to the day after his retirement. He is still coming to terms with his enforced solitary existence. Then comes a phone call from the county police HQ. His old boss wants him to head up a Crime Review Team investigating cold cases. His trips to the allotment would be curtailed. The musings would be clouded by old witness statements and freshly unearthed clues… the hunt would be on. Freeman wonders whether his superiors really need his old style policing methods, or is the request out of pity? To occupy his mind with some fruitless digging into age old cases the best young brains failed to crack?

Next month’s blog post in early July will introduce Detective Sergeant Alex Hardy and Forensic Psychology graduate Lydia Logan Barre. There’s one more team member to emerge. I’m sat outside my own garden shed now studying the seeds I planted last week. They should be ready to harvest by late summer. Patience is a handy tool to have, don’t you think? I’m sure you realise there’s a lot more to the other team members than mere names? I’m excited by the possibilities already. 

Take care and best wishes. 

Ted Tayler

 

From Base Camp To The Summit?

If February was ‘turning the corner’ month, then March could be an even more significant milestone on my journey. Let me rephrase that. On our journey. So many of you have been with me from the beginning and you know the bumps in the road we’ve had to negotiate. 

Those who have recently joined us have done so for the same reasons. Good reasons. The themes in The Phoenix Series have struck a chord somewhere inside you, or you simply enjoy the style in which the adventures are written. Events of the past 48 hours might bring even more fresh faces to our door. The more the merrier, I say.

 

Two weeks ago, I was celebrating the confirmation of my first BookBub Featured Deal. That ran yesterday, Monday March 18th in the US. So how did it go?

 You recall my excitement over seeing my first #1 ranking on Amazon for Assassination Thrillers? Heck, yesterday I was grabbing screenshots all over the place as 21000 copies of ‘The Olympus Project’ were downloaded.

 #1 Assassination Thrillers; #1 Conspiracy Thrillers; #1 Terrorism Thrillers

#1 Crime Thrillers; #2 Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense; and #2 Thrillers in general.

#4 Kindle Free Store. (OK. #1 was on my wish list. Maybe next time?)

 I reduced the price on #2 ‘Gold, Silver & Bombs’ until March 31st. Over 160 copies were sold yesterday. For some obscure reason, all of the remaining 10 books in the series had sales in double figures. Any concerns about the cost of the Featured Deal have melted away. I’m good to go to the next phase of progressing ‘read through’ for the series.

Yesterday unlocked a vast potential. I’m not naïve. It will need a heap of work to realise that potential.

 Many thanks for sharing this journey with me. I couldn’t do it without support.

 Breaking news: – My wife, Lynne has started to badger me into writing again. Last year, she thought I was banging my head against a brick wall and should stop. Lynne thought we should be taking more holidays and visiting family and friends. At my age you can’t look too far ahead, but it appears I may be hibernating for up to ten of the next thirty months – resurfacing in time for our Golden Wedding in October 2021.

 Retirement – who needs it? All things being equal, I’ll be back early next month.      

Another Box Ticked

Another box ticked? More of that later. First, I want to introduce you to Nicky Blue, the comedy writer who approached me with a view to collaborating on that project I alluded to in my January post. 

Nicky is from Brighton in England. He grew up fascinated by books like Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected and TV shows like The Twilight Zone. For years he played and wrote songs in an alternative rock band before going back to university and studying English Literature and PhilosophyHe has a passion for writing fantasy and dark comedy fiction. Stories that dig beneath the surface of everyday life and play in the shadow worlds that we all have.

 

 

In return for an honest review of his book Nicky made his twenty thousand followers aware of my thriller series. Nobody turns down free publicity. It was a no-brainer. 

                               

You can read my review as Father Ted here: – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hot-Love-Inferno-Adventure-Allocation-ebook/dp/B07KB5RLPT

You know me well enough by now to appreciate that there are always highs and lows. I’ve had to negotiate significant bumps in this Long, Hard Road just like every other writer who’s ever lifted a pen. I’ve relied on Canva for the designs I use to promote my work on all aspects of social media.

In January they switched to Canva 2.0 and it’s so much harder to use. I’ve struggled to find everything I was familiar with and every time I sign in, I get pestered to go Premium. It’s not what I want or need. New pastures might be required, but that brings its own ‘bumps’. Continuity and consistency is everything. Will that mean spending weeks developing new designs because I can’t get an exact match to what I have already?

So, returning to this post’s headline, which box did I tick? I’ve often marveled at authors whose profile highlights the fact they’re #1 Best Selling Authors. When I’ve dug deeper some have achieved that across the board on several occasions, but many have probably only hit that prized #1 spot in a single category. Yesterday I ran a Freebooksy promotion on The Olympus Project. The return was as good as could be expected with a thousand plus copies downloaded.

All the work I did last autumn is starting to bear fruit. The great new covers by The Cover Collection are a significant factor. The refreshed blurbs have an input, plus the increase in keywords on KDP that open fresh categories where my books can feature.

Yesterday evening for the first time in the six and a half years I’ve been writing fiction I hit the #1 spot. I took a screenshot for posterity. It might be my only highlight. (OK, I took the screenshot to be able to back up my revised profile details that might casually mention I’m a #1 Best Selling Author) If anyone doubts the veracity of that claim, you can tell them you’ve seen the evidence. If you love thrillers with assassinations, conspiracies and terrorism I’m your man. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Olympus Project promotion follows two weeks from yesterday. Who knows what the future will bring? Further collaborations inspired by my Instagram posts? More bumps in the road from problems yet to reveal themselves? Whatever it is will be eventful I’m sure.

Why not return in early March for a catch-up? You’ll be most welcome.