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Monthly Archives: August 2020

London Rain – free download

Julien Trent, thief, free-climber, and former paratrooper with the Légion étrangère, finds himself working for the government again when the new Home Secretary green-lights the reformation of the RAIN unit.

RAIN is a clandestine ‘asymmetric investigation’ team led by Dr. Madeline Perfect, tasked with taking down otherwise untouchable criminals and doing the dirty jobs that the legitimate government departments leave well alone.

But Julien has his own life, his own plans, and his own desires, and he increasingly comes to understand that his role is more akin to a well-trained service dog than a spy. Scattered with moments of tender reflection and episodes of shocking ultra-violence, London RAIN is a story of intrigue, crime and, crucially, trust.


Free kindle download 1-5 September. Click image for link:


Jago – free download

15 year-old Dakota Scout comes from a world of fear and famine, a world of sudden storms, of feral dogs, and gangs of murderous ‘prowlers’ who torture and murder for sport. Our own world is ninety years past, and all that remains of humanity are tiny tribes who survive beyond the ruins of the ghostly city of Jago, living on their wits and their ability to endure the worst that nature and humankind can throw at them.

One day, pursued by a gang of prowlers, Dakota flees into the basement of a crumbling building and finds herself in a tiny, sterile room with a small computer whose screen lights up and asks her when she wants to go. She spins a dial and, when she leaves the room, she emerges into present-day San Diego. She has traveled back through time into a world of plenty, a world of lights, a world in which cars move and windows aren’t all smashed and in which the people are safe and comfortable. Picked up by the police as a vagrant minor she is fostered by Dr. Jane Smith, and decides she will stay in this safe, protected world. She will go to school, she will make friends of girls her own age, she will forget the life she left behind.

But the life she left behind hasn’t forgotten her. Prowlers, friends and a murderous boy named Jester are all searching for her, all determined to find her. And the man who designed the machine that took her back through time isn’t the only one to discover its secrets. Jago is the first novel in a YA fantasy trilogy: at times bleak and dark, it is not for the faint-hearted, yet it is filled with honesty and love, and it introduces an exceptional new character in Dakota Scout.

Free download September 1-5 – click imagine for link:





After some kerfuffle with a new sax that arrived broken, I’ve been forced to stick with my ancient Yamaha alto for now, and I’m slowly learning to love it. I’m not an alto guy, but I’m developing a decent tone.

For any woodwind people out there, I use an SR Tech L85 mouthpiece (tweaked by Morgan Fry), Rigotti Gold 3.5 tenor reeds and a Rovner ‘dark’ ligature.


My sister took this picture from up in Aviemore. I’m expecting to see Ents, marching on Isengard.


Something I say to people who are unsure about how to proceed is, ‘What advice would you give to someone else in this situation?’

Going to practice it on myself.

I’ll tell you what I tell me.


I don’t gamble much. I’ve read up on the addiction to the dopamine rush that gamblers have, and there are a couple of people like that in my family, but whether it’s genetic or learned, the gambling itch never made me scratch. I just don’t enjoy it.

But every other advert I receive online is for gambling, despite the extent of my gambling history being a last-minute lottery ticket about once a month. Daily I’m inundated with adverts for online poker, one-armed bandits, and every other game of chance; I’m offered three free goes or the first ten pounds cash-back, and various other sugar-coated finger-traps from which, they hope, I’ll never escape. Shit, I don’t even own a credit card: never having been rich, and not wanting to become poor again, I’m careful with my cash.

And yet, the adverts for gambling continue unrelenting. They might as well advertise online Swahili-language lessons (an offer that I’d be more likely to take up).  All of which tells me the much-vaunted algorithms that supposedly run the world, aren’t really up to scratch.


I met up with a student today in the centre of Newcastle to take her on a tour of her newly-adopted city. The normally bustling streets were empty. The Theatre Royal was closed. The Tyneside Cinema was closed. St. Nick’s Cathedral was closed. The Grainger Market was open but half the stalls were shuttered.

On the plus side, the Geordies were as friendly as always, Central Arcade was splendid, and I did get to try out Chinese vegetable dumplings. They were good but, according to my student, not ‘the best in England’ as the website boasts.


Newcastle from Grey’s Monument






Grainger Street.


easy steps

I saw an advert for a YouTube video called something like ‘Learn to write in 6 easy steps.’

It made me think.

It made me think that was 4 steps too many.

So here’s my ‘Learn to write in 2 easy steps.’


  1. Write.
  2. Finish what you started.


Beyond that there’s nothing else to learn. Well, nothing that anyone else can teach you.




I’ve almost completed the edit of London Rain.  It should be available in a week or so. It’s a short novel and it’s quite open-ended. The idea is to present you with a character and situation that, when the story and the various plots are ended, makes you think, hmm, I wonder what happens next?

I probably need to do one more deep dive into the actual text, I can probably chop out a few more things to make it a little lighter.

More to follow.


The first in the Mark Barrett series, NQA is on free kindle download from tomorrow ’til Thursday.

Click image for link: