For me, it’s been an eventful week. A very eventful week. I have experienced great distress and great joy. The joy centred on Sam’s Song. On Wednesday, Sam’s Song reached #1 for the seventh time. For the past two years this has been an ambition. You could argue that there is no difference between six times #1 and seven times #1, and you would be right. For a reason I can’t really explain reaching #1 for the seventh time was important and now that that landmark has been achieved the desire to reach new readers isn’t as great. I wouldn’t say that I don’t want to reach new readers, but if it doesn’t happen it no longer matters. In terms of eBooks on Amazon, I have achieved my goals.
I still have goals in other areas of publishing, with audiobooks, translations, paperbacks and secondary rights. I also want to write many more books, develop Mom’s Favorite Reads and her projects, and help authors find more readers.
I do believe in the concept of setting clear, obtainable goals and plans to achieve those goals. My main aims with writing are: to entertain my readers and to prove certain things to myself. On a personal level, Sam at #1 this week proved something to myself, and that’s all that matters. Now I feel ready to move on.
Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #13, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.
Mind Games is published today, as a paperback and eBook. This story centres on Sasha Pryce, a young chess player. Chess is featured in the book, but the story is about family relationships and the many aspects of love. Amazon Link
Digging in the Dirt starts with Sam and Faye sitting outside their office houseboat on a hot August day. They are looking towards Cardiff Bay, known in the Victorian era and throughout the twentieth century as Tiger Bay. Much of the land around Tiger Bay was owned by John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute (pictured). In the late Victorian era John Crichton-Stuart was regarded as the richest man in the world. That wealth came from exploiting the great mineral wealth of the South Wales Valleys and exporting it via Cardiff Docks. Through their business acumen and philanthropy the Butes are rightly regarded as the founding fathers of modern Cardiff.
Ann’s War is a mystery series set against the social history backdrop of the Second World War. Ann Morgan, the reluctant detective in the series, is fictitious. However, she is loosely based on real women of the period. For example, in the 1940s Melodie Walsh established herself as a private detective. Melodie Walsh’s father was a close friend of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Initially, Melodie worked as an actress – along with modelling, a middle-class career path for young women in the 1930s – before establishing her agency. Her bread and butter tasks included divorces and writ-serving, although glamorous assignments also presented themselves – on one occasion, Melodie went undercover as a model to foil a series of fur thefts. With her father’s social connections, Melodie was in demand, hired by people who wished to gain information while avoiding a scandal. In the 1940s, private detective work was still predominantly a male profession. However, through the likes of Melodie Walsh women were beginning to assert themselves.
Betrayal, the first story in Ann’s War, starts on Friday, 24th March 1944. On that night this remarkable event occurred. Twenty-one-year-old Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade survived – without a parachute – a fall of 18,000 feet when his Avro Lancaster aircraft was shot down over Schmallenberg (pictured). Alkemade’s fall was broken by pine trees and soft snow. Despite the fall of 18,000 feet he only suffered a sprained leg.
The Gestapo captured Alkemade and interviewed him. Initially, they refused to believe his story. However, after examining the remains of the Lancaster they realized that he was telling the truth.
Alkemade spent the rest of the war as a celebrated prisoner of war. He was repatriated in May 1945.
Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #12, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.
Mind Games has been uploaded to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords. Book eleven in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, Mind Games is available as an eBook for $0.99/£0.99/€0.99 and for £2.99 in print. Many thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy; your support is greatly appreciated Amazon Link
In Digging in the Dirt, a story about archaeologists, Sam ventures into a cave. One of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries in Wales was unearthed in a cave, Goat’s Hole Cave, on the Gower Peninsula. In January 1823 the Rev. William Buckland found The Red Lady of Paviland (pictured). Buckland identified the remains as female. However, later analysis established that the bones belonged to a man who lived in Britain 33,000 years ago. The skeleton, dyed in red ochre, represents the oldest known ceremonial burial in Western Europe.
Great news…Suzan Lynn Lorraine, narrator of my Sam Smith Mystery Series, is very keen to narrate Ann’s War as well. So we are aiming to publish the Ann’s War stories in print, as eBooks and audio books 😃
The Third Man is arguably the finest British film ever made. Orson Welles dominates the film even though he only appears in ten percent of the running time. You can read more about that in my article on this cinema classic The Third Man
From the Illustrated Police News, 8 February 1896, Saucy Burglar Robs Amorous Honeymoon Couple! Read all about it!
Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #10, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.
Mind Games has been edited and proofread, and the manuscript will be uploaded to Amazon next week. The book is currently available for pre-order and will be published on the 3rd June 2017. A print version will also be made available. All my books are in print and available at discount prices through the Goylake Publishing link on the Amazon product pages.
I have been having fun this week casting actors and accesses from the 1940s in roles for my 1944-5 mini-series. So far, I have found parts for Gene Tierney (pictured), Joseph Cotton, Dana Andrews, Judith Anderson, Mary Astor, Vincent Price, Trevor Howard and Clifton Webb 😃
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One of the chapters in Digging in the Dirt is set in Victoria Park, Cardiff (pictured). As the name suggests, the park was named after Queen Victoria and was created to celebrate her sixty years on the throne. The park also contains a sculpture of Billy the Seal who lived from 1912 to 1939 in what is now the paddling pool. Apparently, Billy got tangled in a trawler’s net and was rescued at Cardiff Docks. Billy was popular with the locals and they were saddened when he died in 1939. However, upon Billy’s death it was discovered that he was a she, and maybe should have been called Billie.
There are several Second World War strands to Digging in the Dirt. One of those strands is loosely based on the life of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade a remarkable woman who in her early thirties became head of the French underground intelligence network, “The Alliance”. The Alliance’s assignment was to gather information about German troop and naval movements and logistics inside France, and transmit this intelligence to Britain, using a network of clandestine radio transmitters and couriers. It was extremely dangerous work. Many of Fourcade’s closest associates were captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo. Some, however, escaped, including Fourcade herself, on two occasions. On the first occasion, 10th November 1942, she was arrested with her staff, but escaped to London. After returning to France she was captured a second time. Her second escape was more harrowing: in the small hours of the morning, she forced her petite body between the bars of a cell window. At the conclusion of the war, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was decorated for her outstanding contribution in the fight against fascism.
In general, I tend to prefer books to movies. However, with the Maltese Falcon I prefer the movie to the book. One of the finest detective films ever made.
Porthcawl, a seaside town 25 miles west of Cardiff, has featured in Ripper, Family Honour and Sins of the Father. This poster, issued by a railway company to entice people from the valleys to travel to the seaside, c1930, shows the promenade at Porthcawl. There have been changes to the town over the past 90 years, but this view remains basically the same.
This week I made a start on a new Sam Smith novel, Smoke and Mirrors, book nine in the series. This book has a dramatic start and the plot is more labyrinth than some of the earlier novels. When you write a series you want to add variety around the familiarity of the central characters, which is why I try to change the locations occasionally and the tone of the stories, while remaining true to the original concept.
My routine usually consists of writing a chapter a day and editing the previous day’s chapter. Therefore, each day represents a complete chapter. Another round of editing and proofreading take place before the book is ready, but I try to alter as little as possible for the simple reason that these are Sam’s stories, she is the narrator and the words represent her actions and thoughts.
Phew, a busy weekend! Sins of the Father was published this weekend and the book has broken my personal record for sales on a publication day. Along with that I have the proof copy of the print version to assess, for publication in August, and I’m working with Suzan Lynn Lorraine on the audio book version of Ripper. Suzan has excelled herself with the narration and I think Ripper will be our most impressive audio book to date. I must also mention Lucy Llewellyn at Head and Heart Publishing Services and thank her for her considerable creative contribution to the audio book cover. In addition, I’ve also completed a 125 page outline for the next book, Smoke and Mirrors. Wonderful to be writing and collaborating with such talented people.