Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Next Big Thing

Fellow author, Joanna Lambert, tagged me to write about my work in progress so here it is! I’ve only managed to find one author to tag to follow on from me with a Next Big Thing blog – thank you Serena Fairfax! Serena’s blog address is shown below. And now on to my version of The Next Big Thing - I hope you will find it interesting.

What is the working title of your book?

Given that it’s another Carter Jefferson story, following on from Rough Cut, which was a murder mystery thriller about synthetic diamonds being fed into the natural diamond distribution chain, the working title is, fairly appropriately I think, CUTTING EDGE. This will probably also the final title.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I was thinking about what my next book would be about, I again started digging into what was happening in the diamond industry currently and came across a little nugget, which I thought I could use as the core of my new story.

What genre does your book fall under?

Cutting Edge will again be a murder mystery thriller but will again delve a little into the lives of the main characters.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Denzel Washington would make an ideal CarterJefferson but so would Idris Elba. Amongst the other characters, I’d love the film of Cutting Edge to include Ellen Page (of Juno fame), probably playing Lucy – but of course you don’t know who Lucy is yet, do you? Patience, patience!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Now that would be giving away the storyline too soon, wouldn’t it? So, it’s a no comment on this question.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will be self-published again but this time I won’t make the mistakes I made with publishing my first book, Rough Cut. This time, I’ll make a whole load of new mistakes! Hopefully not.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took about two months. I was doing a few other things in amongst although it was a relatively quiet couple of months, day job wise.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh, none! It’s unique! The thing is, it will again probably be a bit cross-genre, a thriller primarily but with a romantic sub-plot!

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I love writing books and screenplays, I enjoy the whole process, so I don’t really need to be inspired to write a story but I do find the whole diamond industry scene quite interesting.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I try to locate my stories in places I know reasonably well, places where I have spent some time and places which I think will be of interest to readers. Cutting Edge is set mainly in Oxford and Santa Monica.

Well, that's it! Below are some links including a link to Serena Fairfax's blog where you will find The Next Big Thing a week from now. - I’ve tagged Serena Fairfax to write a Next Big Thing blog  – Famous Five Plus – a meeting place for indie authors.  – website for my first novel, Rough Cut, with some information about me and my film making activities as well - Rough Cut on - Rough Cut on

Thursday, 23 August 2012

"Dead Wood" by Chris Longmuir

I have read three books in the last month, the first being John Grisham’s latest “The Litigators” which I enjoyed even though I didn’t think it was as good as some of his other books – and I’ve read them all, he is one of my favourite authors. The second was “Along Came a Spider”, James Patterson’s first book, which I also enjoyed despite the American jargon and somewhat truncated style which made it a much more difficult read. The third book, however, was by far the best! This was “Dead Wood” by Chris Longmuir.

“Dead Wood” was Ms Longmuir’s first book and is the best book I have read for some time. Like the other two, it is a thriller. Thrillers are supposed to grab you from the outset and keep you enthralled right to the end and “Dead Wood” most certainly did that for me. I think the main reason I enjoyed this book so much more than the others is because I really cared about Kara, the central character, it mattered to me what happened to her and that kept me rooting for her all the way through the book! Add to that the fact that the book is beautifully written and flows easily, which allows you to concentrate on the story rather than the process of reading and you have a brilliant book At no point did I sense the writer behind the story trying to lead me along a certain path, something which I did with both the other books. Rather, I felt I was reading a true story, one so real that it couldn’t have just been invented, one where I felt I was actually there, observing the events as they happened. It is a great book and I can, without the slightest hesitation, heartily recommend “Dead Wood” to anyone who likes an engaging thriller that will keep you hooked to the very end. I absolutely loved it!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Wanted: AUTHOR – thick skin required

Yesterday, I discovered a one star review of my book Rough Cut which had been posted on Amazon, it went as follows:

“A plot with more holes in it than Swiss cheese. One dimensional characters I could care less about. Every so-called twist is signposted in capital letters. Poorly edited, with the presumption that five words fills more page space when one would have sufficed. Worth reading only if the only other book available is Janet and John: Book One.”

Needless to say this was from someone I don’t know, otherwise he would now be nursing a broken nose, quite appropriately given his Amazon username is Rhythmdoctor! His only other review on Amazon is for an iPhone case so he/she is clearly not a regular reviewer of books.

Now, I’m not saying people aren’t entitled to criticise a book if they really dislike it but there’s no need to be cruel. As a fellow film maker said when I asked him for feedback on my last film, 'I'll tell you truth but I won't be cruel.' So far, there have been three one star reviews in this vein posted on Amazon, the first one being:

“I'm afraid this book is almost unreadable as it is so badly written. It is full of school boy cliches. The English character lives in Darrington Hall, characters are killed for unconvincing reason - just not believable. I couldn't read beyond a few pages.”

Well, if Matthew (that’s who posted it - and his only other review is for a cook's knife!) couldn’t read beyond the first few pages, he really has no business passing comment on the book. If you’re going to have a go at someone’s creative baby, at least do them the courtesy of actually reading it!

Which brings me to another thing which I found quite depressing which was when I submitted the book to a couple of brand new publishers for consideration. One, based in the USA, read the whole book and simply said:

“While Rough Cut is certainly an interesting read, it unfortunately does not fit within the criteria that we are seeking at this time.”

Absolutely no problem with that, completely understand that it might not be what they were looking for. But compare that polite and considerate response with this one from a new UK e-book publisher:

“ We have given this long deliberation but on this occasion are declining to accept the work for publication with us. This is for two reasons. The repetitive use of nouns in close proximity, the lack of scene breaks when swapping from one viewpoint to another, and the misuse of punctuation within dialogue all point to this being the work of someone who is new to the craft of novel writing and thus we feel is not of the standard we require in a novel. As it stands at present, we were not inspired to continue reading past the first chapter.”

They didn’t read past the first chapter but felt constrained to criticise the book on technical grounds which, although they might be justified, neither I nor the professional editor I employed before publication, agree with. Come on guys, if you don’t like it, just say you don’t like it, you don’t have to find excuses, especially ones which are not justified. And what was all that about “long deliberation”?

On the plus side, along with lots of nice reviews from people I know, I have had some really lovely and encouraging reviews from people with whom I have absolutely no connection at all, such as these two:

With his book, Owen Carey Jones has found the perfect recipe: Rough Cut is cleverly written, will grip you from the very beginning and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. The characters are well thought through and likeable and they all have a real dimension about them.” (Margotlily on

“I love reading and can easily read a book in a day and Rough cut is a prime example of this. Once I started reading I could not put it down! The characters draw you in, the twists keep you on the edge of your seat and you feel the emotions of the characters, I cried and laughed with them. Definately worth getting lost in their world!” (Mrs E J Hughes on Amazon)

So, if you want to be an author (or film maker for that matter!), make sure you've got a thick skin because, along with people who love your work and feel inclined to say so publicly, there will be people who get some sort of weird pleasure from being cruel and hurting you and who are happy to do it publicly.

One thing is for sure, there will be people who love your book and people who hate it – it’s that age-old Marmite syndrome. Authors should revel in the positive things that are said about their work and ignore the negative things, unless of course the criticism is constructive and from someone who knows what they are talking about and who doesn't feel the need to be cruel.

Right, so that’s got that off my chest! Better get back to writing another "unreadable book with more plot holes than Swiss cheese." Or maybe one that "will keep you on the edge of your seat and can easily be read in a day."!! J

Thursday, 19 July 2012

A Creative Person's Week

What happens when, as a creative person rather than an experienced business person, you have a few ideas? You know, a few good ideas that you think might be worth pursuing but don't know which to put your time, and possibly money, into? Is it anything like this:

First you have a MULL DAY to think about it.
Then you have to have a CHOOSE DAY to decide which to pursue.
After that it's time for a VENTURED DAY when you put your money where your mouth is.
And that is often followed by an after THOUGHTS DAY, if you're unlucky.
Which in turn brings on a FRIGHTENED DAY, that's the worst one!
Last but one, comes SAT AROUND DAY when you wonder what you were thinking of!
And finally it's SUNK DAY and that brings you back to......

But don't worry, it isn't always like that. Sometimes on the last day the clouds and rain go away and it's a SUN DAY instead!

Here's to lots of good ideas that lead to SUN DAYS rather than SUNK DAYS!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Writer and The Bookseller

It's weird, isn't it, how sometimes your brain just never lets up! This morning, I woke up at 5 o'clock! I went to the loo, as you do, and then got back into bed. And then this popped into my head:

The Writer and The Bookseller

"The time has come," the writer said,
"To talk of many strings:
Of freebie books -- and Amazon --
Of Rough Cut -- and Kindle things --
And why on earth you wouldy not
Go and start downloading!

I was going to add: with apologies to Ruddy Hard Kipping!
but actually I think it should be with apologies to Loos Carol.

And of course it would be emiss of me not to give you te link, now wouldn't it?!

But it won't be available free until today from 12:00 midnight Pacific Standard Time which I think is 8:00 am GMT.

And so, back to bed!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Sequel to Rough Cut in Progress

Well, it's been two months since I last blogged! But now that I am a member of Triberr, my performance will improve, I promise!

So, what to say? Well, I'm happy to report that my new novel, a follow up to Rough Cut called CUTTING EDGE, is well under way with more than 15,000 words having been written so far.

My target is to get this book finished and out there by Christmas, which may be possible for the Kindle version but probably not for the paperback. 

I did wonder wether it was worth bothering with the paperback this time given that with Rough Cut, I've only managed to make a small profit after costs with the paperback, and that has involved doing over 30 book signings with Waterstones! Don't get me wrong, I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the book signings so I will probably go down the same route again with Cutting Edge, assuming Waterstones are up for it, but it's the Kindle version which has delivered a significant return on the time and effort I put into writing Rough Cut. Not that it's all about money, far from it, but you do like to know that your book is being well received and as widely read as possible. After all, if no one is going to read it, why bother to write it? And so far, including paperbacks and both free and paid for Kindles, nearly 14,000 readers now have a copy of Rough Cut. 

OK, time to get back to Cutting Edge! :-)

Friday, 18 May 2012

OK, so I went for a walk round the dam as usual today and when I got home, this chicken followed me into the house! I held the door open and waited for it to leave but it just stood there and looked up at me pathetically. "What do you want?" I asked as I looked into it's pleading eyes. "I need to lay some eggs, urgently!" it said and I weakened. "OK," said I, "but you'll have to lay them in the fridge because that's where we keep our eggs." The chicken nodded and smiled as I led it through the hall and into the kitchen. As it sat on the fridge shelf laying one egg after another and sighing with relief after each one, I asked "What's your name?" The smile came back. "Creme," it said, "Cadbury's Creme". As it got off the shelf and headed for the still open front door, waving a wing at me, I looked into the fridge and smiled. When my wife got home and asked my why there were six Cadbury's Creme eggs in the fridge, I told her the story! :-)

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Social Media – to use or not to use, that is the question. But what is the answer?
     As a new member of, I have been using Facebook and Twitter much more than hitherto and whilst I have been quite enjoying doing so, the thought has occurred to me as to whether or not using social media to promote myself and my book is a legitimate activity. When I say legitimate, I don’t mean is it legal, i.e. am I breaking any laws, but perhaps more: is it an appropriate use of social media?
     Asking this question leads inevitably to another question which is: what is the purpose or function of social media? Is it simply meant to be a facility for friends (perhaps acquaintances would be a more appropriate term) to keep in touch with each other? Is it also meant to be an enjoyable activity, something that is fun to do, regardless of whether or not it shares information between friends, like playing a game? I think that might well be applicable in the case of Twitter but maybe less so for Facebook.
     If social media is primarily a means of keeping in touch with people, then it seems to me that it is perfectly legitimate to use it to tell your friends (or acquaintances) what you are up to, i.e. what you are spending your time on and what’s happening in your life.
     But what about when what's happening in your life revolves around activities you are undertaking to promote yourself and your creations to the general public? Is it still legitimate? The thing is, you could now be perceived (particularly by your acquaintances, as opposed to your friends) as abusing the facility by trying to sell your creations to them, and perhaps even worse, by trying to get them to sell your creations to their friends and acquaintances.
     The fact of the matter is that by using social media, it is possible to spread word of mouth (or, more accurately, word of keyboard) much faster and much more extensively than ever before, as long as you don’t alienate those whose support you are seeking. When using social media as a means of promotion, the aim is for word of mouth about your creation to spread rapidly as your followers re-tweet your tweets to their followers and your friends share your Facebook postings with their friends, and so on and so on, ad-infinitum. This can then lead to word about your creation going viral and reaching tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom hopefully will buy it, or view it, or whatever.
     I was reminded of the whole going viral thing this week when I received an email telling me someone had subscribed to my video channel on YouTube. This caused me to go to my channel where I discovered that a short film of mine which  I had put on YouTube six months ago had been viewed by 38,763 people in 174 countries and that it is currently being viewed by an average of 600 people a day! I have done absolutely nothing to promote this film and I didn’t tell anyone I had put it up there, although I did put a link to it from my book’s website.
     So, in conclusion, I think it is legitimate to use social media to promote your creations as long as you do it sensitively and with intent to inform rather than to browbeat. Excessive postings or tweets of the same information over and over again will just get you unfollowed or unfriended and will, therefore be counter productive. I think we have to remember that most people use social media for fun and to stay in touch with people they know and that is what they expect everyone else to use it for. Social media is not seen by most users as a sales channel but as an information channel. It is, therefore, perfectly acceptable to use it to promulgate information but it is not acceptable to use it to sell - there's a difference. 

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Well, it’s been a good week for a budding author like me! A week or two ago, I heard about (LAHE for short). LAHE is an internet community of authors and avid readers which seeks to promote the work of an invited group of 30 authors, uniting them with each other so that they can share experiences and opportunities and also uniting them with keen readers who like their work and want to help them to get noticed.
     So, me being me, I wrote to LAHE and asked: what do I have to do to be invited to become a featured author? Imagine my surprise when I heard back from the people who run the site within a day or two asking me about myself and my writing. And then, after a few exchanges of emails, I was told they would be happy to have me as a featured author! I was over the moon, I hadn’t expected that. And now I’m there on the website as a featured author and already in touch with several fellow authors, getting to know a bit about them through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
     Definitely a good week for a struggling author who now has hope of seeing his book, which is called Rough Cut in case you’ve forgotten, reaching a wider readership than would have been possible without the lovely people at – so go and have a look at the website – NOW! J

Monday, 20 February 2012

An interesting thing happened this week! I was approached by the publisher of the first edition of my novel and asked if I would be interested in writing film screenplays and treatments based on books which they had published for other authors. My first thought was: would that be something that I would want to do?
     As a trained screenwriter (I have an MA in Screenwriting from the Northern Film School), writing a screenplay based on another person’s novel, or biography, or whatever, is something I am quite capable of doing. And I have done it on a couple of occasions in the past, once using a lengthy taped interview with the person whose story formed the basis of the screenplay which then became my third feature film (the one that got into cinemas across the country). The second time was when I was asked to consider making a fiction film based on an actor’s published autobiography. I used his autobiography as my source material and wrote a feature length screenplay based on it. That screenplay has not yet been made into a film as we are still waiting for the budget to be raised but that’s another story.
     So, a question occurs: did I enjoy the process of creating a screenplay based on something written by someone else or told to me by someone else? Answer: yes, I did. So what’s the problem, I hear you ask! And I agree. If they’re offering me a reasonable fee for doing this, and they are, why don’t I just say YES! I would be getting paid for doing something I enjoy doing.
     Well, of course, it’s not quite as simple as that, is it? And the reason why is because I’m wondering whether it is perhaps a little less satisfying from a creative point of view to write a screenplay based on something written by someone else – the ideas that form the main basis of what you are writing have come from someone else’s creative mind, not yours. In a sense, in translating the story into another format, you are simply doing a technical job.
     And if that was all there was to it, then I would probably say no. But actually, there is quite a big difference between a novel and a screenplay in terms of what works and what doesn’t, it’s not just a matter of format. The conversion of a novel into a screenplay, and vice-versa, requires more than some technical know how about formats. It requires an understanding of what makes stories work when they are in printed format and what makes them work when they are in what is primarily a visual format, and that requires the application of creativity.     
     There’s even a sense in which more creativity is required because you have fixed bounds within which you have to work. Yes, you can stray away from the original story a bit, even add and remove things, but the essence of the story must be the same and that’s a limiting factor. Having thought about this and now having articulated those thoughts, I think that, on purely creative grounds, I don’t have a problem with saying yes to the proposal.
    But there is another consideration which might get in the way because, if I agree to do this, it will probably take up all of my free time over an elapsed period of around two to three months, i.e. I wouldn’t be able to do anything else, other than the day job (which is what keeps me afloat financially) and maybe a few other unavoidable things connected with my activities as an author and a film maker, which would effectively mean that, whilst working on the commissioned screenplay, I would not be able to work on my next novel or spend any time trying to get my next film into production.
     So, what to do? I want to get on with writing my next novel and I also want to try and get Rough Cut into production as my fourth feature film, both of which will have to go on the back burner for two or three months if I take a commission to write a screenplay for someone else.
     As I write this, I have made no final decision on the matter and the good thing is that I don’t have to until I actually get offered a specific screenwriting commission. Hopefully, when that happens, I’ll have a clearer view of what I want to do. Maybe!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

I was thinking this week, when we create something, why do we do that? Is there a purpose behind it or are we just doing it because we can and we want to? It seems to me that the answer to this question is quite important as it will determine what is driving us to be creative and thus, to a degree, it will affect what we create.
      So, if the driving force behind our creative urges is no more than the inbuilt urge to create which we all have, in one form or another, doesn’t that give us the purest motive which comes from within us to create something with which we can be pleased. But then, why would we be pleased with what we create? Because it is beautiful, or useful, or tastes delicious or maybe it just makes our hearts soar to hold in our hands something we have created, on our own without anyone’s help.
      If, on the other hand, we are being creative because we want to please people other than ourselves, does that in some way sully our creation? Not necessarily because the motive to please others is a perfectly acceptable one if all that is involved is giving pleasure to one’s fellow human beings.
      But what if it’s a bit of both, i.e. a desire to create something that pleases us, but for reasons other than that the thing created is pleasing to us? What if, the driving force behind our expressing our creativeness is a desire to be well thought of or admired for what we have created? Or worse still, if our motivation has little to do with what we are creating and comes pureley, or largely, from a desire for something else, e.g. fame or money? What then?
      The downside of having a motive that is other than to create something that is purely and simply something in which we ourselves can take pleasure, is that our creativity very quickly becomes corrupted. Now, instead of making the most beautiful, useful or delicious thing we can imagine, we make things which are intended to please other people regardless of how we might feel about them.
      The advice given to creative people by those who are involved in making money out of the creations of creative people, particularly in the arts, often follows the following formula: research the market for the type of thing you are creating and then create what your market wants, i.e. what a lot of people will pay to own or enjoy.
      At this point, you become enslaved to market economics and what you create is no longer the pure outpouring of your creativity. In the world today, everything is measured in terms of money. A good book is one that sells millions of copies or a good film is one that packs in audiences at the cinema. Which is not to say that what you have created can’t be both your creativity at its purest and also hit the spot from a market perspective.
      No, what I am saying is that creative people, and that’s all of us, should try to make the things we really want to make, the things we feel driven to make, that we should not try to satisfy market demand but our own creative genius. Then, whatever the outcome is in terms of fame or money, it won’t matter because what we have made is exactly what we wanted to make, or as near to it as we could, given our imperfect abilities.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

I finally bit the bullet and sacked New Generation Publishing as the publisher of Rough Cut this week and signed up with Matador (part of Troubador Publishing). It was a tough decision to make but in the end I didn't feel I had any choice as NGP were consistently failing to do what they said they would do. I got a call as soon as my email terminating the agreement landed and for half an hour they tried to persuade me to change my mind, telling me that they had made a decision last week to invest heavily in promoting my book. Rightly or wrongly, I stuck to my decision and Matador will be launching the second edition of Rough Cut at the beginning of March. The financial deal with Matador is better and will make the book signings I am organising with Waterstone's bookshops more profitable than before. But the main thing is that the people at Matador communicate better and they listen to what I say - at least they are doing at the moment, and hopefully that will continue as we get further down the line. As I said in an earlier post, having to deal with this sort of thing does take the edge off doing anything creative but I still think it's worth it! Especially when you get a reader writing to you to say: "I read Rough Cut this weekend, it spoilt my weekend, I couldn't put the damn thing down! Really enjoyed it, when's the next one?" :-))))

Monday, 30 January 2012

I'm amazed! I asked for permission from Blogcritics and the Yorkshire Evening Post to use quotes from their articles in my marketing blurb and on the cover and they have both said "yes", and so quickly! The author of the YEP article even said "it would be an honour". So the new cover has been sent to the publishers with a quote from the YEP on the front and one from Blogcritics on the back. I'm so pleased! So far, today is proving to be one of those UP days - let's hope it lasts.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Yesterday, I spent most of the day (including an hour or two on Google) trying to find out if I need permission to use a quote from a newspaper article about my book which was in the Yorkshire Evening Post a few months ago. I'd love to put the sentence: "The plot has an exotic, almost James Bond feel to it." on the front cover of the new edition which is coming out next month but I don't want to get sued and end up having to throw away 1,000 books. I would, of course, attribute the quote to the paper but maybe I should ring them and ask them if it's OK. But then they might say no when actually I could have used it without asking! So you see, being creative doesn't mean you can avoid getting bogged down in the business end of life - unless you're very lucky and you can find someone else to do all of that for you! I wish!!

Friday, 27 January 2012

OK, so now I'm a blogger! I'm new to this but I'll try not to be boring. I've set up this blog to share some of my experiences of living with a creative mind (that's where the title of the blog came from!) in the hope that some of them might be of interest to people and maybe even helpful to them.

I think everyone has a creative spark inside them which they want to let out, that's certainly true of me, and sometimes that can be a great, really positive thing. Other times it can take you down a path that leads to sleepless nights and depression. I've experienced both over the years and in my opinion the good times more than make up for the bad times.

So, if you're a creative person (and who isn't), why not subscribe to my blog and let's share our experiences of Living With A Creative Mind.

What do you say?