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Monthly Archives: May 2020


Re-learned how to tie a bowline knot today.

It’s a while since I tied one and I’d forgotten how to do it. It was like learning an entirely new skill. I’ve been repeating it on and off all day in the hope that it will imprint and then I can forget about it, but access the skill when necessary.

Tomorrow, the slipped buntline knot. For those fast getaways.

Cormac McCarthy

I studied McCarthy for my MA. He’s one of America’s greatest writers and in no way do I measure myself against him.

But I read that he is often engaged in writing a number of books at once: he writes part of one, then moves across to another, then a third, then back to the first, then the fourth and so on.

In that sense, we have a similar approach. I always have a number of projects on the go at once. Sometimes I’ll complete three books in the space of three months, sometimes I’ll not complete anything for eighteen months.

Currently I have four projects on the go – one is completed and only requires editing and artwork; the other three are in various stages of writing and/or redrafting. Plus I have another three or four that are mostly planned but not written or, in one case, written but not ready for a redraft (cos I haven’t devoted any thought to it in a while). I might complete two this year.

But I don’t stress about this approach, as chaotic as it might seem at times, because as Henslowe says in Shakespeare in Love: “strangely enough it all turns out well.”

Good enough for me.


NQA – free download

There first of the Mark Barrett action/thriller novels, NQA is on free Amazon download from Monday to Friday this week.

Click image for link or look on Amazon for NQA:


Junko, my top-end Yamaha soprano was worth about three and half thousand pounds, but we never really got on. We tried, but it didn’t work out. I sold her and tried a few others but nothing worked.

Then I bought Mercy, my three hundred pound, bottom-of-the-range soprano saxophone (from Chynah) and it’s working out fine. It’s taken a few practice sessions, eight and counting, but we’re getting somewhere. Sure, her bottom end is lacking and the intonation is, at best, ‘interesting’ and she’s maybe a bit shrill, but then again, I’m no genius on the instrument, so we’re working together. And it’s good.

As soon as the lockdown is over, we’re busking again.

In Durham.

Every Sunday evening.


I’m have an addiction to YT. I mostly like talk podcasts, that way I can do other stuff while people chat in the background.

Ideally, my entire media input will be a my Nokia 3310 and a digital radio.

I’m working on it.


The lockdown has given me a chance to recalibrate my operating system. It’s also given me lots of time to write. And it’s allowed me to develop an income via online tuition. So I’m coming out of it with a clearer view of where I am and what I want to do.

Obviously there are caveats: I might get hit by a bus tomorrow, or yet be hit by the virus, and I don’t think it’s good to be too content for too long. But for the moment, I’m satisfied with the way things are going.

wino forever

The last three or four years, when I drink wine, I have a poor reaction. My heart races and I can’t sleep, and when I do finally sleep I have nightmares. I did wonder if was a reaction to my daily migraine medication but I doubt it, it feels more like an actual reaction against the wine.

Either way, the days of a nice evening drink followed by blissful sleep are pretty much over for me.

I might still try, now and again.


After the release of Jago earlier this year I’ve been working on a plan for the second novel in the series, Coyote.

I needed a spine to hang the story on, and planned it to be based around one of the characters, Esta Healer, so I had a peruse through my notes to see what I’d already written. Then I discovered 10,000 words I’d forgotten I’d written, about different character, Jester.

Et voila, as the frog-eaters say. I have the spine on which to hang the narrative of Coyote.

And the original character-idea will now do for the third book, Harm’s Way. Which is 2-3 years hence and in which Esta is a more central character.


Every now and again I like to mention this:

The fee for using my work is 1 blueberry muffin or 1% of gross, whichever value is higher.

You’re welcome to use my stories in class, in films, whatever. It’s all good, share the joy. And give me a heads-up.




I chose not to get into IT. From early on I saw it as a time-sink. I have a couple of good friends who are musicians who got into the tech side of things, and they simply stopped playing music.

The tech takes up all their time.

Same with playing online games or diving deep into social media. Both are utter time-sinks. YT is my final bad habit and I’m working at listening to podcasts rather than watching them. When I manage that, life will improve even more.