Taking my books to market

Sh!…don’t tell anyone…writing stories is fun. Living many lives through your characters is wonderful. Having your stories published is fantastic. Receiving positive comments from reviewers and readers is amazing.

Trying to get your books noticed in a crowded marketplace isn’t fun. So I was thrilled when another author contacted me to ask if I would be interested in doing an in-depth interview for her blog. Lynn Lawler has done some great interviews with other authors I admire, so I was pleased to be asked.

Lynn asked questions about my books, what the characters mean to me, as well as questions about my life – which I tend to think is rather uninteresting. Doing the interview though, I was surprised at how much I found I had to say.

Doing the interview was fun. A big thank-you to Lynn for helping to get the word out there about my books and here are the blog links (Lynn has two blogs):



Vindolanda, May 2015

I’ve already shared this photo on Facebook and Lynn has included it in the interview, but it’s the only one I have of me on my knees at the dig site this year. Anyone who has read the books and/or followed my ramblings on here and FB will know that one of my interests is archaeology and I’ve been fortunate to be able to pursue it with taking part in the dig at Vindolanda for the last two years. 2014 was much warmer even though I went to the site six weeks earlier. This year, May has been very cold, wet and windy. I’ve been asked for more information about the dig – so I’ve included a link to this article that features some of the most recent finds: http://www.culture24.org.uk/history-and-heritage/archaeology/art527022-archaeologists-put-roman-gateway-on-wishlist-after-finding-ancient-water-tank-at-vindolanda-fort

Arc Over Time, released by Affinity eBooks in May 2015 – available from Affinity eBooks / Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords / iTunes

My debut novel, Starting Over, is available from Affinity eBook PressAmazonBarnes & NobleBella Books,Smashwords, and iTunes.

Journeys back in time

hotelnorthTaking a break from digging, my partner joined me for a weekend in a country house hotel where we indulged in a glass of champagne to celebrate the publication of my second novel, Arc Over Time.

On the Saturday we drove over to Vindolanda so that Anne could see the dig site. It was her first visit and she was amazed by the sheer scale of the work being undertaken there. The Vindolanda blog gives a good idea of what is being uncovered this season and what they hope to find with the help of the many volunteer excavators. I was there for period 4 of the digging season – May 10 to 22. During that time we uncovered a Roman road, the remains of a roundhouse from the year 209, found coins, small blades, a ring, lots of broken pottery and animal bones and teeth. In the vicus, the settlement outside the fort, the archaeologists are excavating at a much deeper level, six feet down. Only last week, this is where they found large sections of a leather tent, in excellent condition, made from goat skins. As well as enjoying the dig experience, I also met some lovely people – volunteers from all over the UK as well as Australia, Canada and the US.

Anne and I managed to dodge the raindrops during our walk around the fort and after a tour of the museum, we drove to a place called Alston to take a short trip on a railway line that is being restored along with the steam engine and train carriages. Below is the quintessentially English countryside view from the window.


All in all, it has been a busy few weeks. But now I need to carry on – promoting my new book and preparing myself for the GCLS Conference in New Orleans. Hope to see some of you there.

Arc Over Time, released by Affinity eBooks in May 2015 – available from Affinity eBooks / Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk / Bella Books / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords.

The adventure continues

Two years ago, when I retired, I thought of things I might do with my time. I even told friends and family that I was going to take up cooking. My wife was delighted and presented me with a Delia Smith cookbook when I arrived home from my last day at work. Two years on, Delia is still languishing at the back of a cupboard. (Nigella – I might have taken the book out to look at the cover once in a while.) However, during this time I have written several novels, two of them published.

Unfortunately for the cooking venture, I had already embarked on writing the first chapter of what became my debut novel, Starting Over. No one in the book makes anything more complicated than scrambled eggs. (Vegetarian lasagna gets a mention, but don’t ask me how to make it.) In fact, scrambled eggs make several appearances. (This is something I can cook…write about what you know!)

During my research on pottery—as one of the main characters is a potter—I stumbled across Vindolanda, the site of a Roman fort near Hadrian’s Wall. My interest was further piqued when I discovered they had an ongoing volunteer dig programme. I could actually volunteer to spend two weeks on a real live archaeological dig. So, I booked a place for the start of the next digging season, April 2014.

I drove up to Northumberland on a beautiful early spring day. It’s roughly a three-hour drive from where I live so I took my time, but even so I was too early to book into my accommodation. To fill in time I visited Housesteads, the largest excavated fort site on the Wall. It was a rainy, windswept day and looking out from the high point of the North Gate, I could imagine how bleak it was for the soldiers on duty.

From there it was just a short drive to Vindolanda. Approaching it from the north, I realised I had chanced on the best way to see it for the first time. The sun came out and lit up the landscape. It was an impressive sight, when I turned off the main road and saw the excavation laid out below.


Why is Vindolanda so interesting? One of the main reasons is the discovery of the writing tablets. (The Romans gave us a lot of things, but no, they didn’t invent the iPad.) From the 1970s onwards, a number of these postcard size scraps have been found each year – small strips of wood with writing on them. It’s taken decades for scholars to translate the Latin handwriting, and the words offer amazing insights into how the occupants of the forts lived. And there is more than one fort – thought to be at least nine separate forts dating from the first century to the fourth.

So, I find myself on the verge of a return to Vindolanda. It won’t be the same…a different group of volunteers, later in the season, and seeing what was uncovered after I left the year before. But I’m looking forward to spending another two weeks on my knees, scraping away in the dirt, culling the debris of the past.


And it helps pass the time while I await the publication of my second novel, Arc Over Time – published by Affinity Ebook Press on 15 May 2015. Head over to their website if you want to read the first chapter.

My debut novel, Starting Over, is available from Affinity eBook PressAmazonBarnes & NobleBella Books,Smashwords, and iTunes.