This year, I will make a big leap (or maybe even a few). There come times in our lives when we really should do, but hold ourselves back. A ticking clock can motivate – it has for me.
Not being particularly interested in painting – either doing it or looking at the end results (I know, I have no soul!) – I nearly passed Sue’s post over. But something made me read on, and I realised this isn’t about painting. It’s about me. It’s about all of us.

The Silent Eye


The faded flower caught my eye as I was trimming the potted plants on the windowsill. The rich shades of its life and death were so striking they would make an amazing watercolour. Appropriate, really, as the flower was an Anthurium, the painter’s palette. The heart shaped bloom seemed too beautiful to simply add to the compost so I reached for the camera, thinking that really, I should have reached for the paints.

Then I realised that I haven’t painted once since I moved house several months ago. In fact, I haven’t even unpacked them. Granted, there is a problem of space. There is no longer a spare room to serve as a studio and storage area, but that excuse only works for the oils and the big easel. The watercolours would slip in a drawer.

I used to paint something every day, just to keep learning, even if it…

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All authors, indie or otherwise, know that it’s important to get our books reviewed. This post by Kevin Brennan tells a particular tale that reinforces the point. If you’re an author, you’ll relate to it and probably feel more motivated to get reviews. If you’re a reader, I hope it’ll spur you on to give up a little bit more of your time to express an opinion on any book you’ve read. Even a few words can make a huge difference



I had just been rejected by Ereader News Today for the second time in two months. Something in me snapped.

There aren’t very many effective ways to promote indie books, and without promotion the whole self-publishing wheel stops turning. And not just promotion but low prices too — generally 99 cents or even free. I’ve complained before …

But when ENT declined to promote Fascination again last week, I decided I had to find out why. So I appealed the decision.

I described my history with ENT — three novels in three years, all with successful campaigns via ENT — as well as my earlier publication history. Parts Unknown. William Morrow/HarperCollins. I’m not a shoe salesman who decided to “write up” this great idea for a novel I’ve always had.

Bridget from ENT wrote me back within a few hours and explained that Fascination had been declined — get…

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A New What?

1977 was a significant year in the world of movies. For cinema-goers, there was a change that became a lasting legacy, one that is still talked about. For one film franchise, a benchmark was set that’s never been matched since.

Some of you are ahead of me on this. Your encyclopaedic knowledge of this franchise is matched only by Trekkies.

But I also know some of you are already straying down the wrong path. Because, while 1977 saw the very first Star Wars movie hit our screens, it also saw the release of The Spy Who Loved Me.

For those of you who were already playing John Williams’ iconic theme in your heads and have just heard the needle scrape to an abrupt halt, this may have come as something of a shock. But bear with me. Continue Reading »

It’s always a pleasure to get some feedback from someone who’s read your book. Even from those that tell you it’s rubbish, you have the reassurance that they’ve actually read it all!
Fortunately, this review is a lot more positive


17183770Book Description:

As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.

“You know what they are, don’t you?”

A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a…

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Sadly, the timing for this isn’t right for me, but there may be others out there who will benefit from this, so I thought I’d share it as much as I could



Bloodhound Books is open for submissions of new fiction for a limited time!

We specialise in the fiction we know best and love most. That includes; grit lit, crime fiction, suspense, mystery, domestic noir and psychological thrillers and chillers. 

If you write non fiction, young adult, children’s, sci-fi, erotica or romance, we are not the best publisher for you. 

We only accept submissions electronically via email. All submissions should include;     

·       The first 20 pages of the manuscript

·       A synopsis of your work (no more than 1500 words)

·       A cover letter telling us about you and your writing career to date

You can send all of the above as email attachments in either Word or PDF format. 

Please send your submission to  –  submissions@bloodhoundbooks.com

Smart publishing in the digital age.

We know getting a break can be tough for…

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Roll Over Lay Down

A week has passed since the news came out. Rick Parfitt died at the age of 68. From what I know of his lifestyle, he packed a lot into those 68 years, and the real wonder is that he managed to survive this long. Even so, the news came as a blow.

I’m not noted for my attachments to people, especially those in the public eye. The constant flow of obituaries this year has been a surprise, and many have had some connection to my life – even if it was just watching The Two Ronnies – but only a handful have made me really sit up and take notice. Rick Parfitt’s passing is one of them.

In some respects, it shouldn’t matter. I haven’t seen Status Quo live for over twenty years, and I haven’t enjoyed much of their material since the late 1980s. And yet… there’s history there, a history that may bear repeating fully at some point, but now isn’t the time.

I first became aware of the band in the mid ’70s, when my musical interests were largely influenced by my mum’s tastes. There was more Middle of the Road stuff there than I generally admit to – Bread, Neil Diamond and the like – and a rather extensive collection of Elvis singles. At school, though, I was beginning to hear names that intrigued me – Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and Quo.

In all honesty, when I first heard Quo, I wasn’t sure if it was my kind of thing, but something made me listen again. Looking back on it, their brand of rock seems quite tame but I realise now they provided a gateway to other music.

When I bought my first house (at the ridiculously young age of 20), I wasn’t ready to be particularly domestic, so asked a friend (fellow Quo fan and terrific artist) to provide me with some murals. Jaws rising from the top of the toilet cistern was funny, but the pictures I was most proud of were reproductions of album covers on the living room walls, two of which were from the Hello! and Quo albums.

It was 1981 or ‘82 before I finally got to see them live (Hammersmith Odeon – a bit of a trek for young lads rom the East Midlands). By that time, I’d become a regular concert-goer and was used to the discrepancy between the sound created in a studio and live music. So it was something of a shock to hear something that sounded so similar to what I’d heard on their albums.

More importantly, I was surprised at the connection between artists and audience. When opening, Francis Rossi addressed the crowd with something along the lines of: “How are you then? All right?” Which seemed remarkably informal compared to other gigs I’d been to.  It was also part of the charm of the band. They were down to earth, a group of lads who were having a good time and wanted you to have one too. Their energy, humour and enthusiasm was infectious.

Francis Rossi, Alan Lancaster and Rick Parfitt of English rock group Status Quo performing on stage in the 80s

No wonder that I returned to see them (in the words of one of their songs) Again and Again. Leicester DeMontfort Hall (two nights running on one tour), Milton Keynes Bowl, Wembley Stadium, Castle Donington (Monsters of Rock).  I’ve got a feeling there was more than that, but those are the gigs that spring readily to mind.

Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi remained the core of the band throughout. Other founder members dropped out in the mid ’80s and, if I’m honest, I think their influence was missed. Subsequent new music tended to be more mainstream. Even in the ’70s they were mocked for each song sounding the same. As they reached the end of the ’80s they seemed to focus more on covers and the covers just sounded like Quo songs. This was largely why I drifted away from them. I still listen to their old music, but I don’t yearn to watch them.

As it happens, even if I had decided to go to a live show, I wouldn’t have seen Rick Parfitt any more.  Only a few weeks ago, he announced that he wouldn’t perform with the band again because of health problems.  Maybe that should have been the warning to take note of. His health history has not been good, but every time he’s returned to live music because that’s what he clearly loved doing.

As far as I’m aware, Francis Rossi still plans to continue with the band, but as the only original founder member, and as the partnership between him and Rick Parfitt was clearly so strong, I can’t help wondering whether this is really the end of the Quo era.

Whether it is or not, I am grateful for the music I’ve enjoyed and gigs I’ve experienced with them – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.


Rick Parfitt – 12 October 1948 – 24th December 2016



So, it’s been a black Christmas.

Yesterday we saw sad news of another three individuals who’ve played a part in our lives – Liz Smith, Richard Adams and Carrie Fisher. A death at Christmas always seems more tragic than at any other time of year, and the reach of these people touches so many. When we add in Rick Parfitt and George Michael, it’s hard to imagine a Christmas that’s sent out such depressing ripples.

Not long ago I wrote posts about the loss of Robert Vaughn and Leonard Cohen.  As both Rick and George played their own parts in my life, I was already considering writing about them as well. Live music has been very significant to me over the years.  My outings are more sporadic now, but in the 1980s and 1990s I was a regular concert-goer.  A series of reflections on those times is on the cards – something encouraged by Steve at Talk About Pop Music – and I commented on my experience of watching Leonard Cohen after he died. Among those I did see in the 1980s were Wham! and Status Quo.

In Quo’s case, I started to draft a post a month or two ago, but realised one wouldn’t do them credit. Nevertheless, Parfitt’s death means I will soon make a start.

Where Wham! are concerned, I have only one story to tell.

Back in the early ’80s, I went to as many concerts as possible and, having a fairly eclectic taste in music, I wasn’t too picky about who I saw.  They ranged from Motorhead to Neil Diamond and took in a lot of points between.

I should also point out that I enjoy dancing. Not in that Strictly kind of way – my style is probably best described as free-form – but most dance music appeals to me. So I liked the songs Wham! were playing and when they announced a tour a friend and I made sure we got tickets. I can’t recall the exact year, but I’d guess it was 1983 or 1984, which means I was at least 20 at the time.

Now I’m not extraordinarily tall, but I’m not short either. My friend was possibly an inch or two taller. This fact didn’t seem particularly relevant to us when we booked the tickets, but became something of an embarrassment once we’d arrived at the venue and headed out into the crowd. Because the audience was largely 6 inches to a foot shorter than us (a rather different mix to those shown in the video below).

I’d never been to a concert where so many of the crowd were of school age, so it hadn’t occurred to me that this could even happen.  In the current climate, no doubt we would have been viewed with a great deal of suspicion by staff and any parents in attendance. I suspect we would also have left the building rather than expose ourselves to the risk of false assumptions being made about our intentions.

Eventually George and Andrew (Ridgeley) came on and put on a terrific show. It was a bit camp at times (still don’t get why they decided to wear white shorts and fire shuttlecocks out into the audience), and it was clear Ridgeley was there largely for support (he held a guitar, but barely strummed it).  Still, it was entertaining and the music was great.

By the time we left, my friend and I still felt a little awkward and self-conscious, but I’m glad we went and I look back on the evening as a fun event that still makes me smile.

I never saw George Michael live again, but I did appreciate his music and have danced to his records many times over the years.

2016 has been a terrible year for taking people away from us, and it occurs to me that a few of those are people who’ve had an influence on me at times. In George Michael’s case, it helped me make the decision to ensure I never go to what can best be described as extended children’s parties. Oh yes, and I’ve danced.

Of course, the year isn’t over yet, and there’s still time for us to lose a few more. But, please God, let’s hope not.



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