Sweet Sixteen





The Freeman Files Box Set  has been available since the end of July. It’s been approved for a Featured Deal with BookBub on Saturday 5th September. That’s another step in the right direction.

‘Creature Discomforts’ #7 in the Freeman Files is due in early September, and I’ve started to write about Grant Burnside, the Swindon gangster shot by a sniper on Sunday 25th May 2014. His case feels like a tough nut for Gus and the team to crack.

I went ahead with my thoughts on what might happen to Gus in the future. We’re in for the long haul. I’ll be able to share the front cover images with you next month. All I can do this month is tease you with the book titles.

#8 Silent Terror

#9 Night Train

#10 All Things Bright

#11 A Genuine Mistake

#12 Buried Secrets

#13 Strange Beginnings

#14 Dead Reckoning

#15 A Normal November

#16 Into The Sunlight

As well as the cold cases to solve, Gus is surrounded by a dozen regular characters who contribute to the books as they face their own challenges and forge new relationships.

I can’t reveal too much at this stage – but I guarantee it won’t be boring.

Face masks are compulsory in so many places these days. I spotted a great idea on Instagram where another writer had purchased masks with her book cover incorporated into the design. I switch between the Phoenix and Freeman design shown above on my trips out now.

They’re great for promoting the books, but nobody asks for an autograph – because they don’t recognise me!

I’ll be back with an update in September. Take care, stay safe and best wishes. 

Ted Tayler


Happy Days

I’ve just sent out Newsletter #50 – time for a small celebration.

Only a handful of people can remember the content of the first connection I made with my readers back in June 2016. At the time there were only 4 Phoenix stories available and ‘The Price Of Treachery’ was in the planning stage. Christian Bale and Damian Lewis were suggested for the roles of Phoenix and Rusty if a casting director ever came calling. Four years on, other stars would probably be on the wish list.

The main thing I recall from my first newsletter was the comment that Colin Bailey was evolving as a character, and the addition of new characters in Books #3 and #4, plus the expanded roles of others opened dozens of avenues for me to allow the series to develop.

I’m still not sure I imagined a 12-book series at that point; I certainly never thought someone called Gus Freeman would create an even wider audience with his own series in the future!

 ‘Barking Mad’ – Book #6 arrived on Amazon around two weeks ago. Many of you will have bought it already, but if you want a Free copy in exchange for an honest review, then give me a shout and I’ll forward a copy.

If you’re still ploughing through The Phoenix Series and want to get a head start on The Freeman Files, I’ll have a Box Set of Books 1-3 available by the end of the month. It will be priced at $5.99 – (Buy Two Get One Free).

I told you in a previous newsletter that the original 6-book series was extended to 10. ‘Creature Discomforts’ is due in early September, and the next three will be with you in approximately two-monthly intervals.

BREAKING NEWS – I’m loving writing about Gus & his team so much that I’m planning to extend the series to 12 and SIXTEEN isn’t out of the question.

I’ll be back with an update in August. Take care, stay safe and best wishes. 

Ted Tayler

Warm Thoughts From Home & Abroad

Another month has passed, and although there have been minor adjustments to lockdown here in the UK, nothing has altered the schedule I’ve followed for eleven months. 

When I wrote to you in May, I was about to start writing ‘Barking Mad’, #6 in the Freeman Files series. It’s  now 80% complete. I mentioned eleven months earlier because that’s how long I’ve been writing about Gus Freeman. Six books in a year? I was happy with producing three titles a year with The Phoenix Series. Why have I apparently speeded up? Five years ago, when the first title hit the bookshelves nobody noticed or cared. Little changed until March 2019. Since then, things picked up, and by December 2019, when ‘Fatal Decision’ was published, there has been an audience waiting for the next title to appear; and the back catalogue is still delivering the goods.   

I received this email a couple of weeks ago from a 40-year old father of two who lives near Manchester. He’s not a Phoenix Club member (yet) but it meant the world to me that he took the trouble to write.

‘I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for the Phoenix Series. The books are so easy to read and I feel sad when a book is coming to an end because I just don’t want it to finish. I am on the fifth book at the moment and I look forward to reading all the other books in the series, plus your back catalogue and any future books you release. Thank you again. You have brought back my enjoyment in reading books. All the best.’

I’m the first to admit my books aren’t perfect. I’m a storyteller rather than an author. Imagine how I felt when another reader took the trouble to deliver this message –

‘I found your books through Kindle, and I really love your characters in the Phoenix series. I also enjoy your little narrative comments throughout. They add a cheekiness to your story telling. I am, however, distressed at elements of your grammar. It really does interfere with your wonderful story line. Could I offer my services (for free, absolutely no strings attached) to help you clean up your manuscripts? It would be so much fun. I have been a fan of Ian Rankin for some time and, as far as I can see, your books are up there with his!’

Praise and criticism all rolled into one email!

Every writer needs to be wary, but when I checked I found the email came from a Professor who has taught English for over 20 years. A linguist, who is an author for Oxford University Press. The collaboration has begun. My manuscript cleaner is enjoying her work and I feel as if I’ve gained a life-long friend. 

Regardless of what’s happening in the world this past four weeks have given me hope.

I’ll be back with an update in July. Take care, stay safe and best wishes. 

Ted Tayler


It’s An Ill Wind

There’s been a longer gap than usual between Newsletters and that wasn’t because I hadn’t been thinking of you. I prayed each and every one of you was still fit and well when I got back in touch.

Lockdown continues here in the UK for someone like me. As I mentioned last time, I found very little difference in my daily routine in those early weeks – the occasional social outing involving friends and family stopped completely, but that was it.

I planned to use the extra free time to publish this next book by the end of April.

So why the delay?

It was a combination of things. The BookBub Featured Deal for Book #1 in the Freeman Files Series was sensational. As a result, April produced more Sales, Page Reads and Downloads than ever before. I suddenly realised I had readers waiting for the next title. I experienced pressure for the first time since I retired. I didn’t have writer’s block, but I certainly struggled to get the usual number of words done per day.

An audiobook publisher contacted me asking if they could handle the Freeman Files series on my behalf. I was tempted, but then I worried that April was just one month. An exceptional month triggered by Covid-19 and an unprecedented surge in the need for books to read.

There’s always a ‘spike’ with a good promotion deal and it’s followed by a honeymoon period where figures thrive. After a month, the honeymoon ends and although Sales don’t tend to drop back below the average prior to the deal, they stabilise until the next ‘spike’ occurs. Maybe that’s why I thought of ‘Onwards and Upwards’ as The Phoenix Club’s motto?

Book #5 ‘Final Deal’ in the Freeman Files Series went ‘live’ in Kindle format today. If you want to read and review it then just let me know and I’ll gladly forward a .mobi copy.

To those of you who have been with me for a long time, you know that by July 2018 I was convinced I’d written my last word. Nine months later, my wife said after my first BookBub Featured Deal – “You need to write something for people to read after they’ve finished the Phoenix Series. Get out from under my feet and back in your office.”

I thought Gus Freeman was a character I would enjoy writing about. I sketched out six stories based on actual unsolved murders and by December I had four titles ready. I published ‘Fatal Decision’ with no fanfare or expectation, and followed up releasing a title each month until March. Books 5&6 should have been written by the end of February and released in mid-April and mid-May.

Although Sales between December and March didn’t catch fire, I was enjoying the writing so much I opted to extend the series to ten books. I sketched the content, sourced the covers, and looked forward to another quiet, uneventful summer, followed by a genuine retirement.

Funny how things turn out, isn’t it? What does my wife say? “Are you sure it’s only ten?”

I start writing Book #6 ‘Barking Mad’ in a day or two.

I’ll be back with an update in June.  Take care, stay safe and best wishes. 

Ted Tayler

Stay Positive

Most writers probably feel the same way about the lockdown situation we’re currently suffering. The degree to which this pandemic is affecting you will vary, but it hasn’t really changed the way a writer operates day to day.

For the past seven years I’ve intermittently shut myself in isolation for five or six hours a day – only emerging for food and an encouraging hug from my wife.

All we can do is hope and pray we come out on the other side of this sooner rather than later.

I learned how to video call my grandsons the other day. They wanted to SEE that we were still OK, despite reassurances from son and daughter-in-law that we were fine.

I wish I was more technically proficient. Maybe, I could use some wizard app that allowed me to chat with each one of you – to check for myself that you were OK.

So, what’s been happening since my last Newsletter?

Book #4 ‘Deadly Formula’ in the Freeman Files Series was published last week. Some of you may already have it. If you want to read and review it then just let me know and I’ll gladly forward a .mobi copy.

I started writing #5 ‘Final Deal’ straight away. The sooner I can add to the list the better. Day One of the BookBub Featured Deal exceeded all expectations yesterday. There were 20% more copies downloaded than forecast, and Day Two is only just underway.

I guess with so many people forced to stay home there’s going to be a surge in demand for free books. It’s an ill wind, as they say. I don’t want to take advantage of that without giving something in return.

Every little helps, and helping one another is a surefire way to get through this.

I’ll be back with an update in May. Take care, stay safe and best wishes. 

Ted Tayler

A Shift in Momentum






There will always be months in a writer’s life when things don’t go as scheduled. I need to explain why this past four weeks hasn’t produced the final version of #4 in the Freeman Files Series – ‘Deadly Formula.’

I can honestly say writer’s block has never been an issue in the past seven years, and my output of a mere two thousand words a day when I’ve been writing suggests that things have merely slowed, not stopped. How many reasons can I put forward?

Well, the named storms that have hit the UK weekend after weekend have contributed. Ciara, Dennis and Jorge have hurt my progress. My wife and I helped our neighbours rebuild several sections of fencing between our properties. The floods never reached our doors, but six miles away things were very different.

We also attended birthday celebrations for two grandsons. I find it takes longer to recover from those than my own birthday – I don’t know about you?

There’s always a honeymoon period after a Bookbub Featured Deal and I knew it could tail off by March, but the good vibes I felt about the early promotions for ‘Fatal Decision’ encouraged me to extend the Freeman Files Series from six to ten titles.

I researched the stories for ‘Creature Discomforts’, ‘Silent Terror’, ‘Night Train’, and ‘All Things Bright’ and secured covers for them to ensure I was committed to produce the goods.

My target now is to publish ‘Deadly Formula’ by the end of March. Books #5 to #10 will follow in a more sedate procession – perhaps every 10 to 12 weeks.

Breaking news: – I didn’t expect another Featured Deal until the summer at least. There was a nine-month gap between the two Deals I secured in 2019. I received confirmation this morning that ‘Fatal Decision’ will be featured on FRIDAY 3RD APRIL in a worldwide Deal. It’s been placed in the Crime Fiction category, which gives it a wider spread than the Phoenix books.

It’s another potential giant step forward and I’m glad that I took those days out to consider more books in the series. Of course, it loads the pressure on me to get #4 finished. I’m 30% into the story now and the incentive to crack on is huge. 

I’ll be back with another update in April.

Take care and best wishes. 

Ted Tayler


Pressure? What Pressure?

Gus Freeman and his Crime Review Team have successfully manoeuvred their way through two cold cases given them by ACC Kenneth Truelove.

In their most recent case, DS Neil Davis’s father, Terry, came under the microscope. Was the former detective responsible for sending an innocent man to prison? Or did he follow orders from a superior officer?

DS Alex Hardy continues his recovery from his motorcycle accident and awaits news on whether he can take a more active role in the job he loves.

Lydia Logan Barre grows closer to Alex and reveals the secret behind her reasons for abandoning her theatrical ambitions and joining the police.

With a wide array of characters on both sides of the law, ‘Pressure Point’ offers plenty of action, romance, humour and drama.

Laura Mallinder left home for work on Sunday, 12th June 2011. She walked to ‘Gentle Touch’, a massage parlour in Broadgreen, Swindon. Her boss, Maggie Monk discovered her body later that evening. Laura, twenty-seven years old, sustained fatal stab wounds to her back.

“It sounds like they’ve landed us with a locked room mystery to solve, guv,” said Neil Davis.

 “Nobody said all these cold cases would be easy, Neil,” said Gus Freeman.

       “The multiple dimensions to the characters give these books a genuine slant. The relationships between the characters are worked smoothly into the plots.”

The increased exposure from that Christmas #1 meant that 2020 started with a bang. New faces, high Sales, and as many Pages Read (KENP) as for the whole of 2019.

 The Freeman Files Series continues to pick up the pace. The first two books are performing well. I made Paperback versions available this week.

Book #3 ‘Pressure Point’ will be published in Kindle/Paperback on Friday 14th February.

I’m always looking for reviews for the brand-new series. If you missed out in the past and wished to grab a FREE copy in return for an honest review reply to this newsletter and I’ll forward a copy straightaway. That goes for either of the three Gus Freeman books; the more the merrier.

Book #4 ‘Deadly Formula’ is maybe two weeks behind schedule. I hope to get it published in mid-March as planned, but I decided that improving the quality of what I already have out there was more important.

 I’ll be back with another blog post in early March.

Take care and best wishes. 

Ted Tayler


My first UK Christmas Number One

If you dig back far enough in my literary output you’ll uncover a book of memories that started this whole writing craze. We never made it big in the music world and would have given anything for a Christmas #1 in the UK.

Everything comes to he who waits. I secured my second BookBub Featured Deal for the 23rd/24th December and the Box Set of Books 1-3 in The Phoenix Series held the #1 spot in Free Kindles across the whole Amazon store (plus half a dozen genres within the Thrillers category). In the US store it peaked at #3, but I’m not complaining!

 The increased exposure something like that offers is immeasurable. Safe to say, my decision to launch the new Freeman Files Series in mid-December didn’t backfire. Sales are steady on #1 ‘Fatal Decision’ and #2 ‘Last Orders’ will be published in two weeks. 

Every author is desperate for reviews, especially with the launch of a brand-new series. I’m hopeful for positive feedback from ten people who have yet to post their reviews. 

This is 2020 – the start of a new decade – what can I promise you? 

I’ll do my utmost to keep writing books you enjoy. In June 2018 I thought I was done with writing. Six months later things started to improve. In March, that first BookBub Deal was a game-changer. In June 2019 my wife urged me to start writing another series. On Christmas Eve Eve(!) that first series received another shot in the arm.

There’s life in The Phoenix Series yet.

Gus Freeman is starting to make an impact.

Retirement is not an option.

Many thanks for sharing this journey with me.  

I’ll be back with another update in early February. 

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.

I’ll be back in four weeks with an update on progress on the book. 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.