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Monthly Archives: December 2021


Jester is almost done. Need to do some sweeps to get rid of the repetition of various things, no need to mention them twice, never mind three or four times. I’m hoping also for a critical reader or two to give me a hand with the details of a story set in a foreign land that doesn’t quite exist.

Between now and getting Jester done, I’m taking time out to work on a completely separate, one-off story called Joel. I finished two short books at the end of ’20 and I was pleased with the length and structure of both – episodic, not much more than a hundred pages each, and that’s what I’m aiming for with this new one.

That’s all for this year. The trick now is to forget the outcome and focus on the process.

Which is writing, of course.


Christmas 2020, I got a book called The Daily Stoic. It’s set out as a sort of calendar-cum-almanac – each day has an aphorism or truth to help guide and improve the would-be stoic.

I struggled with the two dates below:


January 1st. Learn to separate those things you control (and can change and improve) and those things you can’t.

January 3rd. Ruthlessly cull those things that don’t matter.



I’m still struggling with the above. Never got to January 4th, and the year has wheeled around again. Maybe I should ruthlessly cull this book.


A Mark Barrett Christmas fable.

Available for free download from now til Christmas Eve. Click image for link.

Comfort & Joy.

Free download between now and Christmas Eve.

Mr. American

I’ve read a lot of dross lately – my kindle seems to facilitate the buying of dross, via the algorithms I’m subject to but also, no doubt, due to my own inertia. But a while back I bought Mr. American by George MacDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman series and the excellent war memoir Quartered Safe Out Here. I began reading it last night.

Immediately I knew I was in the hands of a real storyteller. It felt like climbing into bed and snuggling beneath a heavy quilt on a cold stormy night. I felt safe. Reading this lays bare my taste for cheap thrillers as junk food for the mind. I should make an effort to read more stuff like this.

I probably won’t.

But I’ll make an effort to change my ways.


Finished the penulitmate draft of Jester.

I’m taking the rest of the year off, going to have a Merry Christmas.

busker’s delight

I went busking in Durham tonight, and as soon as I got there it had started to rain. I stood at the bottom of Saddler Street, in the entrance of the narrow passageway that leads to Vennels Cafe, to try and keep dry, set up and played.

Saddler Street, looking slightly Harry Potterish.

It was very quiet, I’d missed the Christmas shopping, and with the rain, pickings were flat, but I didn’t mind because my tone was excellent – the passageway gave excellent natural reverb – my fingers felt light and quick, and the few people who did pass gave me smiles.

After an hour or so, a smackhead approached me with the usual sob-story, and due to the inclement weather and the lack of takings, I wasn’t in the frame of mind for making dosh, so I pretended I believed him and told him to take a bit of cash from my case. He did, and then left.

I finished up and came home.



Takings: Poor.

Tone: Excellent.

Contribution to Christmas spirit: Positive.



I released a couple of short novels in 2019/20. Never looked at them since. But yesterday I had a glance at them.

Spenderella is a surprisingly good. It’s slight, a self-described Christmas fable, featuring my action hero Mark Barrett in an unusually romantic setting – Prague at Christmas.

London Rain features a whole new heroic character, Julien Trent, fee-climber, thief and sometime member of the Government-funded RAIN ‘asymetric investigation’ project.

Very pleased with them.



I’m working through Jester – doing a final edit – and really enjoying it. For a long time it was going to be called Little Blade because one of the things about Jester Scout is that he has a lot of names, and none of them are his real name.

But it’s an origin story – it tells of how he became Jester. So in the end, that has to be the title of the book, even though Little Blade is probably a better title.

So next year there’s only one book to be released, which is Jester. Lucas has done me a cover, which is great, and it should be ready February or March.