Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Canary Island Adventures

Last week, in conjunction with darkstroke books, I announced the 20th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, A Tangle in Tenerife.

Here’s the promo:

 

© David Robinson 2020

 Feel free to share.

 Music: “Radio Martini” by Kevin MacLeod

Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4127-night-of-chaos

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 www.dwrob.com

***

Joe and thirty of his 3rd-age pals jetting off to the Island of Eternal Spring.

But as usual, all is not so simple. Who would wipe the images from a digital camera? Why do the young couple from Lancashire look so ill-at-ease, and why are they constantly arguing with a fellow holidaymaker from the same area? What kind of trouble is the courier in, and those card sharks… are they cheating or not.

It’s a Gordian knot for Joe and his chums as they try to unravel…

A TANGLE IN TENERIFE

 ***


 A Tangle in Tenerife, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #20, exclusive to Amazon, released September 4, 2020, available for pre-order now at:

 https://bookgoodies.com/a/B08CZWJMGK

(universal link takes you to your local Amazon site)


Saturday, 6 June 2020

Chatting with Miriam Drori


It’s not often I do guest posts. TBH, it’s not often I put up posts at all, but today I’m making an exception, in the shape of a conversation with the lovely Miriam Drori.
It started out as a video chat, but a morass of technical problems at both ends meant we had to revert to good old-fashioned written words.
Miriam is a writer and editor, a resident of Jerusalem, and a producer of high quality work. Which only begs the question, why would she want to talk to an idiot like me?
Still and all, let’s get on with it.
*
Welcome, Miriam. One of the questions people ask me is, what prompted you to become an author. Fact is, I had a good education which was a complete waste of the taxpayers’ money, and when I retired from the rat race ten years ago, I took up scribbling more seriously. So let me put the same question to you. What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

Ooh, you've thrown me in at the deep end and forced me to start with those two letters: S. A. No, that's not South Africa or South Australia or even Société Anonyme, which is the first one that Google gave me. No, for me, SA is social anxiety, which I've been unfortunate enough to share most of my life with. It probably sounds strange for me to say that social anxiety prompted me to start writing, but I can explain. When I eventually discovered that was my problem, I joined an online forum for 'sufferers' (for want of a better word). I 'met' a lot of people who were much worse off than me. And I noticed that almost everyone who joined the forum wrote, "I thought I was the only one." Also, I noticed that people on the forum wrote a lot about not being understood - even by professional people who should have known better. In other words, people who had it didn't know they had it, and people who didn't have it didn't know anything about it. So, I became passionate about raising awareness of social anxiety. As writing was something I knew how to do, I started writing about social anxiety. That was in 2004. The book, Social Anxiety Revealed, was eventually published by Crooked Cat thirteen years later, in 2017, stayed with them for three years and is now published independently. It was when I finished writing it, in about 2005, that I had the idea of writing a story and so began the long… well, never-ending period of learning the craft of fiction writing.

Another question people ask me is what’s a typical day like you. Disastrous is the first word that springs to mind. A jackrabbit mind like mine needs something to keep it occupied, so there is no typical day. I could be talking to the webcam, writing, marketing, or (when the missus is in that kind of mood) working in the garden. Your turn. What does a typical writing day involve for you?

A typical day… I wish I had one! I wish I could say I spend the mornings writing and the afternoons editing and marketing, but it doesn't work out like that. I have lots of days when I don't do any writing at all… at least, not the fictional sort of writing. In November, on the other hand, I spend whole days writing. That's because of NaNoWriMo - that month when certain crazy people around the world try to write 50 thousand words in a month. I don't always reach 50 thousand words, but I always have a great time doing it and that's because of all the other local crazy people doing the same thing and the meetups we all have where we eat, drink, discuss what we're writing and write together. So, this is the time that writing isn't a solitary activity.

When I think about my work, I often ask myself, what’s the best part about writing? For me it’s typing those two magical words THE END. What’s the best part of the writing process for you…and the worst?

The best part is reading through something I've written and thinking, "That's really rather good!" The worst part… I don't know. It's certainly not finding a section that doesn't work. That happens all the time, but I know that if I think about it, I'll come up with a better idea, or else I'll ask for advice. So, I can't think of a worst part of the actual writing process. In the wider context of being an author, marketing is the worst part.

I’m a panster. I never plan anything. If I do, the plans are invariably go wrong. Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?

I've tried both. I think the writing process flows more quickly when I plot in advance. I prefer to know the ending so that I always have a goal in mind. Having said that, nothing is engraved in stone - any part of my plot can change as I'm writing.

I frequently struggle with deciding on names for my characters. Is it one of your problems too?

In general, I try not to have two with the same first initial. Also, I try to choose names that would sound familiar to English-speakers even if the characters are not English-speakers. That's not always possible, so my second choice would be names that are short and hopefully easy to remember.

In the first novel I ever wrote, I didn't know what to call the main characters, so I called them M for male and F for female. Eventually, they turned into Martin and Fiona. Luckily, I decided to scrap that novel, but the characters remained with me, keeping their names in a new plot that became my latest novel.

Let’s throw you right in the deep end. Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

Yes, I can summarise it because this is something I've considered. In 3 words: Japan smashes walls. In 7 seven words: Social misfit's journey through Japan and life. That one was suggested by my friend and author, Katy Johnson.

And the inspiration for the book?

The original idea came from a writing course I attended. We were told to describe a character and I chose Martin, who I knew well from my discarded novel. Then they told us to place the character in a country we hadn't visited. At the time, I hadn't been to Japan, but I'd heard a bit about it. So, I imagined how Martin would fare if he was sent to Japan, and that's what led to the novel, Cultivating a Fuji.


I’m sure it’s a winner.

I spent much of my working life travelling all over Great Britain, so I don’t need to do a great deal of research for my books. Do you do much research?

Oh yes, but not an enormous amount, because I deliberately used places and facts I knew. I researched sites in Japan that I didn't get to see on my visit there. And I discovered new places in Bournemouth, which is where Martin lives. And various aspects of life in the '70s and earlier - like songs that were popular then, and even the weather. I discovered I'd included a waxwork in London's Madame Tussaud's that wouldn't have been there at the time. It took me some time to find another one that was there and that suited my story.

Other people ask, do you have a message for your readers? The answer for me is, yes. Read and enjoy. So again, I put the questions you, is there a message for the reader?

Mostly, I wanted to create a good story. If readers enjoy the story (and they have), then I'm satisfied. If it causes them to rethink anything afterwards, that's an added bonus. There are several messages they could take away, starting with this one: The effects of childhood bullying can last a lifetime.

Last question. Do you remember Desert Island Discs? If you were stranded on a desert island, what luxury item would you like with you?

I still listen to Desert Island Discs, although I always expect to hear Roy Plumley! (Yes, I'm that old.) I'd take a piano. Hopefully, I'd finally have time to practise. Hidden inside the piano would be lots of notebooks and pens, because I can't imagine not being able to write!

I think that’s cheating isn’t it?

Miriam, it’s been absolutely wonderful talking to you, and I wish you every success with all your work.
*
Miriam’s novel, Cultivating a Fuji is published by Crooked Cat Books and you can find it at:




Friday, 22 May 2020

Life in Lockdown

Here's a light-hearted look at exercise for the elderly and  vulnerable (that's me) during lockdown.

© David Robinson 2020

 Check out my main site at: www.dwrob.com

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Chatting with Sue Barnard

A slight departure for me. I'm in conversation with fellow author and good friend, Sue Barnard.



Please feel free to share. You can learn more about Sue at: http://broad-thoughts-from-a-home.blogspot.com/ and as always, I’m at www.dwrob.com


Sunday, 19 April 2020

For Charity



Here in the UK we’re in awe of Captain Tom Moore’s efforts to raise money for the charity NHS Together. At the age of 99, with a couple of weeks to go to his 100th birthday, he decided to raise £1000 for the charity by simply walking 100 times round his garden. According to media reports, he raised a staggering £20 million.
I take my hat off to you, sir.
It made me think about what I can do for charity. Ultimately I came up with the idea of taking five of my self-published titles and donating all profits from them to the same charity, NHS Together.
Here’s a video which I posted on the subject yesterday.

The idea wasn’t mine. It was down to my good friend, Iain Pattison, who is donating profits from his Quintessentially Quirky Tales series to the same charity, and I don’t think either of us is planning on emulating Captain Tom’s efforts. If I can raise even £20, never mind £20 million, it’s something and it will ease my feeling of uselessness during the present crisis.
Four of the titles concerned are thrillers written under the pen name Robert Devine. The fifth, an oddball, off -the-wall comedy, is written under my real name David Robinson, and you can find a full list, along with links:

All five titles are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so you members of Amazon Prime can download and read them as part of your allowance.
From now until the end of the coronavirus crisis, all profits from sales and page reads will be donated to NHS Together.
So what do you get out of it? Entertainment at a reasonable price and the satisfaction of knowing that the profits go to a worthy cause.
I thank you all in advance.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

A Tangle in Tenerife 2



For all you STAC fans, A Tangle in Tenerife has just passed the 20,000 word mark, and the plot is shuffling along nicely.

In the following sample, Sheila, Brenda and other club members are waiting for the coach to arrive to take them on an excursion, when a distressed young woman enters reception.

***

Tabby Wade hurried into reception and up to the counter. She was obviously in some distress, and although Pablo kept his voice down, she could be clearly heard.

“My husband. Have you seen him?” Obviously worried that Pablo would not understand her, she translated it into Spanish.

Pablo replied in English. His voice was so muted that they could not hear what he said, but a shrug of his broad shoulders was enough to transmit the message. Tabby rushed out of the hotel, and from their seats, they could see her dash into the supermarket next door. She was gone less than a minute, when she came out, she hurried to the kerb, glanced both ways, then dashed across the road, hurrying into The Mother’s Ruin.

She disappeared into the bar, Brenda automatically checked her watch. “Too early for the regular crew. All she’ll find are the cleaners.”

Julia disagreed. “Paddy and his wife live on the premises.”

Almost as soon as she said it, Tabby reappeared with Paddy right behind her, and the two were obviously arguing. Paddy said something, gesticulated wildly with his arms, Tabby poked him in the chest while she gave him a mouthful by return, and Paddy grabbed her finger, leaned into her and from the look on his face, he was obviously threatening her. In the end, she turned, and headed back across the road to the Atoll.

Determined to help, Sheila got to her feet, and met her she rushed into the reception area.

“Tabitha, whatever is the matter?”

Tears streamed down the young woman’s face. “Spike. He’s missing. I woke up twenty minutes ago, and he wasn’t there. They haven’t seen him here, and the supermarket manager haven’t, and neither has that ignorant so-and-so across the road.”

Sheila took her hand, guided her to a sofa just inside the doors. “I’m sure there’s no need to worry. Maybe he’s just gone out for a walk.”

Tabby shook her head. “He wouldn’t go that. Not without telling me first. I’ve got an awful feeling that something’s wrong.”

Sheila recalled the argument she, Brenda and Joe had heard the previous evening, but diplomatically did not mention it.

“How long have you been married?”

To her surprise, Tabby seemed uncertain. “Oh… About… About three months. This is supposed to be our honeymoon. We couldn’t get time off when we were married, and anyway, who wants to go on holiday the middle of January?”

Sheila patted her hand. “It’s a time of adjustment for you both. I mean, I’m assuming you haven’t been married before.”

“We’re not old enough to have that kind of past.” The young woman sniffed back her tears. “We had… Had words last night. One of those silly things. You know. But we were all right when we went to bed.” She looked urgently into Sheila’s caring eyes. “Something’s wrong. He wouldn’t do that. Go out without telling me where he was going.”

Tabby’s distress brought memories of Sheila’s problems the previous year. For a moment, they threatened to overwhelm her, but she steeled herself, burying the distasteful memories. Her problems were the result of a lack of judgement, while Tabby’s could be put down to simple inexperience.

Pulling in a deep breath, letting it out with a sigh, Sheila gently lectured the woman. “I was married for twenty-five years to a wonderful man. He died, you know. Double heart attack. In that time, we had many a cross word, and even though Peter would often take himself off after an argument, he was usually back within an hour or two. Marrying, living together, is a whole new way of life, Tabitha. It’s different to being on your own, or going steady with a boyfriend, when you have space for yourself. It might be that Spike… What is his proper name?”

“Rodney. Rod. He prefers Spike.”

Sheila delivered an encouraging smile, which she feared came out as more of a wince. She had never been in favour of using pet names. “It might be that Spike just needed a little time to himself. Remember, if you’re finding marriage strange, he is too. He’ll be back soon. You wait and see. And if I know anything about young men and new husbands, he’ll probably have a nice bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates for you.”

Tabby gazed hopefully into Sheila’s concerned face. “You think so?”

“I’m sure of it.”

The younger woman sighed. “It’s not like him.” There was a greater sense of urgency about her. “I can’t help getting the feeling—”

Sheila cut her off. “You’re a young woman in love. It’s natural to be worried. If you’ll take my advice, go back to your apartment, make yourself a cup of tea, and try ringing him.”

“I already tried. His mobile’s turned off. That’s another thing. He never switches it off.”

Sheila maintained the benign set of her face, but behind it, the first hint of doubt entered the mind. It seemed to her that young men and women these days never switched off their mobile phones. Joe had often commented that the modern generation would need them surgically removed. A standard, irritable, Joe Murray observation on the world at large, but it was not without foundation. Even here, a holiday paradise, most people, locals and visitors alike, could be seen fooling around with their phones. They could not even enjoy a cup of coffee in an open-air cafe without tapping or chatting away on them.

Why then would Spike Wade switch his off?

With no obvious answer to the question, she determined to encourage Tabby. “It sounds as if he really does need a little time to himself. Keep your phone on, Tabitha. He’ll be in touch when he begins to miss you.”

***

Ooh. The plot thickens like gravy. Where is Spike? Why is his phone switched off? Will Joe, Sheila, Brenda and Co come to the rescue of the distraught wife?

I know you’re bursting for answers, but you’ll have to wait a while. A Tangle in Tenerife, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #20 (even though it’s the 21st book) will be with you in the late spring.

In the meantime, check out the other titles HERE

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

The Anagramist Second Sample



Time you were seeing another sample of The Anagramist, this time from Chapter 17.

I’ll not tell you too  much about it, other than Drake and his partner Becky are central to the tale at this point. Drake is a counsellor and head of department at Howley College, and Becky is sergeant in the uniformed division of the town’s police. Drake is also counselling Sam, whom we met in the last sample.

Now read on.

*

Coming from the college at a few minutes after half past nine, Drake was not in the best of moods.

Storms had battered much of the UK over the weekend, and the aftermath had seen the river levels rise to the point where the Wharfe was threatening to burst its banks. The winds had abated through Sunday night/Monday morning but to add to the town’s woes they brought flurries of light snow, creating more havoc for drivers and pedestrians alike, and when he left the college after a compulsory evening shift, the air temperature hovered just above zero, bringing the ever present threat of ice above the thin covering of snow.

It had been a tedious day. Two classes, both of them sparsely attended by the kind of students who would always be there come hell or high water, a single session with a member of staff in need of counselling on her husband’s gambling addiction, and a lengthy, tedious management meeting in the afternoon during which he managed to get into several arguments with his colleagues, and particularly Principal Quentin.

In such circumstances, Becky would usually provide the safety valve, but she was on late shift, and the police were still on maximum alert. It was two weeks since last Anagramist attack, which had taken place two weeks after the first, and they were anticipating the killer, working to a regular routine, striking again. In Becky’s case it meant that she and her uniformed colleagues would be called to every tiny incident, no matter how apparently irrelevant, to ensure that it was not the build-up to another murder. When he spoke to her at eight o’clock, she was as irritated as him, having already dealt with four separate calls, two of them domestics, one a case of shoplifting, and the final one an argument in a pub.

To compound matters, news had reached him via Iris Mullins that Sam had taken a step backwards. At their last appointment, a week previously, she had been in a much better frame of mind, and had opened up a little more to him. Drake confidently expected her to accept the Landshaven post within the next couple of weeks, after which, he could move on to preparing her for a return to work.

Despite warnings from Dr Southam that she was still at a stage of finely balanced indecision, Iris had pressed too hard, and Sam had slipped back into previous mood of surliness, and was refusing to cooperate or even speak to the staff once again.

In relating the tale, Iris was full apology, in response to which, Drake vented some of his annoyance on her, delivered in a forthright lecture on the need to read his reports closely, and not put groundless interpretations on them. He was due to see Sam in a little over twelve hours, and he anticipated a torrid time at Peace Garden.

Climbing the steep hill out of Howley centre, turning onto Moor Heights Lane, his turgid thoughts mumbling and grumbling, only half his mind on his driving, all he really wanted for now was to get in the house, take a quick shower, and flake in front of the fire until Becky got home at about eleven o’clock.

He passed the last of his neighbours, almost half a mile from his home, and the area plunged into darkness as the last of the sparse streetlights disappeared behind him. He had always thought it one of the loneliest areas in the town, but then, that had been half the appeal of the place when they bought it. His job entailed dealing with people; so did Becky’s. What better antidote than living in splendid isolation on the edge of the moors?

The address was 196 Moor Heights Lane, which had long been a puzzle to him. How had the powers that be calculated the number? His nearest neighbours were almost half a mile away, and consisted of a row of cottages, numbered two to twenty-six, and according to his researches there had never been any property on the intervening land. Was his house numbered purely as a guess? Had the post office decided that it would be number 196 if someone had built on the intervening gap? Or was it simply a case that they needed a house number, and they were leaving a suitable gap for future building developments?

His was also the last house on the road. Beyond it there was nothing but the moors, grazing land for sheep and dotted with the occasional reservoirs. There were several lanes leading off to the left, all of which led back into Howley, but straight ahead the road led to the A59 in the vicinity of Bolton Abbey, one of the recognised gateways to the Yorkshire Dales.

But that very seclusion presented problems of its own, especially in the winter, and not all of them related to the weather. In the early days, they had found themselves the infrequent target of burglars, and they were compelled to invest a considerable sum of money in advanced security precautions. At the slightest hint of movement, a PIR system automatically switched on powerful lights flooding both front and rear of the house, and they stayed on for several minutes. The intruder alarm met with all the necessary legal requirements, but the house’s location in total darkness meant that the flashing blue light fixed to the front wall could be seen from the town centre.

It was always his policy to reverse into the broad drive. It was marginally safer than driving in, and then having to reverse out onto the lane. As he pulled past, he noticed a Renault Clio parked thirty yards further on, and the alarms began to ring in his head. Intruder.

Other than a breakdown, or workmen repairing the dry stone walls and fences, there was nothing out here which would account for a car parked on the roadside, but in this instance, it was too late in the day for any workmen, and a breakdown looked unlikely. As far as he could ascertain, there was no one in the car, and in this day and age of the mobile telephone, it was even less likely that the driver would leave the vehicle and go in search of a phone box, the nearest of which was almost a mile back down the lane.

Senses on full alert, he reversed into the drive, killed the engine, and flipped the switch to unlock and open the boot. As he climbed out, the floodlights came on and brought a false daylight to the concrete drive and surrounding areas.

His was a large property, and even with the security lighting on, there were many places where an intruder might hide, particularly in the deeper shadows on the inside of the dry stone walls to the left side and rear of the house. He reached into the boot and took out the wheel brace/tyre iron. Only about nine inches in length, bent at one end to facilitate the removal of the wheel nuts, it was nevertheless forged of steel, and it would be enough to persuade unwelcome visitors that the best course of action was to scram.

He took out his smartphone, activated the torch, and walked to the corner of the house, from where he shone the light along the line of the front and side dry stone walls, adding to the illumination of the floodlights. At that distance, the torch was poor, but it was still enough to let him see that there was no one in hiding.

He switched off the torch, and made his way back to the front door, fished into his pocket for his key, and inserted it into the lock.

The door was composed of white uPVC, but there were two, decorative panes set into the upper quadrants. As mirrors, they were poor. Painted roses, and the general frosting of the glass, yielded nothing other than dim reflections, but as he inserted the key in the lock and turned it, he noticed movement in the glass. It came from behind and to his right. Whoever it was must have been hiding on the other side of the dry stone wall to the right, and he had climbed over the wall while Drake had his back turned to check the side and rear gardens. Now, according to his estimate, the intruder was stood at the front of his car.

He began to turn.

There was no sound. The first Drake knew of anything was intolerable pain radiating from the back of his left shoulder, accompanied by a thud as the knife hacked through his jacket and shirt, and sank into his muscles on the outside of his shoulder blade.

With a cry, he fell to the ground, dropped the tyre iron and reached frantically for the source of pain. It was out of the reach of his right hand, and the agony in his left arm made twisting it up his back all but impossible.

Footsteps padded rapidly towards him. The attacker coming at a sprint. The Anagramist. The words rang through Drake’s pain-ridden mind. Before he could turn over, the assailant’s hand pressed his back, and he gripped the knife, sending fresh spears of torture through his prone victim.

He lowered his head close to Drake’s ear.

“I’ll kill them all. I’ll make every one of them pay for what your father did to mine. Including that crazy bitch in Leeds. I thought you’d want to know that before I kill you.”

*

What happens next? Well, you’re gonna have wait to find out.

With luck and a following wind, The Anagramist will be with you in the spring.