Monday, 21 May 2018

Return for a bestseller

Heading back to US Science Fiction.
Four years ago, I had no intention of being classed as a bestseller, especially in the Science Fiction genre.

After the success of my series,, I did think of moving away from SciFi, but it's what I write well, and it sells, so how can I change?

A new Science Fiction series is coming

A project that has been running through my mind.
Since my series has stopped selling, I decided to go back and update a serial I ran online for four months several years ago.

Here is a sample from the start of the series - 

The craze started slowly, and at first, appeared no threat but gradually as time passed, we noticed more of the Games were becoming easier to obtain, and users were less secretive. Who started the craze we never found out nor did we know why the Game banned literature other than rulebooks and books linked to their games; all we knew is the Games took over, and soon books would become hard to obtain; little did we realize what lay ahead.
Reports from the central cities appeared online; telling of mass burning of reading material and executions of readers seen in public places but these things don’t happen in a civilized world - or do they? It doesn't matter, we are miles from the nearest city, out here in the deserts, so, nobody would bother about us, or so we thought.
The beginning of the end of free reading and the start of the resistance group “The Word” is marked by the flames of the libraries and halls of learning. A time marked by the ring to the noise of the Game Lords – people who live in massive towers – who produce and sell the games which corrupt the minds of the young and force them away from the pleasures of reading.
The elders can still remember a time when the people were able to read the Word. Whether for information or pleasure the Word was available. Now, those once imposing buildings stand desolate and unused; their innards got strewn to the far corners of the winds of our barren land; where we once had peace now there is noise and flashing lights; where we had books, papers, and learning materials; all which remains is a pile of ash. Each day the firefighters bring out the books and burn them in the square of the Game Lord and each day more is lost and can never be found. Many of the great writers of our time have fled the cities in fear of being hunted or ridiculed.
The wars came about because the Game Lords feared their control of the minds of the young would never be total while books and the Word were available. The people at the head of the Game sent machines into the skies with the ability to burn all things to cinders; what survived the war became ruthlessly hunted down by bands of Scorchers. Their equipment includes flamethrowers to burn any remaining books and papers. Some of us escaped to the empty lands and tried to start again, to lead a revolt to combat this evil that had spread out of control.
Even though the Game Lords continued to seek to crush our hopes, some of the writers fled to the barren lands and wrote about the terror in the cities. Out in the desolate and barren wastelands, where nobody dares to travel without protection against ravaging hordes of gangs. The Word thrives as we send the Word across the airwaves in radio signals and blogs. In the hope, more will receive the Word and turn away from the Game.
Anybody who sought the Word is hunted and publicly decried as heretics to the new masters of the touchscreen games. Years have passed since the purges began, but the struggle continues, as hard and as fervent as it did when we began to attempt to achieve our objective.
Our hope is for these few great words to have the ability to reach the minds of the young; the Game may not yet corrupt some of the young and wish to know the pleasure of the Word. To these young and very active minds, our aim is to destroy the grip of the Game. The time of the return of the Word is our wish. We hope many will want to follow in our steps as they find our stories and news items on the waves of the radio beacons. The long since forgotten senders of news and entertainment. Our Ancient records tell us where these beacons are. These had been the only means of contacts and reports before the Word became available, and people would gather to listen to anything they may be able to hear. There are still a few who may be able to use these beacons, but they fear discovery, so contact needs to be brief.
Many writers fled to an area dominated by the radio masts of the days when the Word broadcasts went out free on the ether - we call the area The Towers of Enlightenment. But, as the Word got less, the power, and numbers of the games grew. People with inquisitive minds need to do things to be creative, and these games began to choke our thoughts. 
We at the Towers of Enlightenment remember how the terror started. One person saw a Game and played the opening level, as others nearby watched the enjoyment and ease with which pleasure they achieved with little trouble; the craze grew. We thought at first "Just a fad that will pass," sadly the phase did not pass but grew and the more the phase became, the more the Game Lords controlled the minds of the young. 
This new craze grabbed its addicts and spread like fire, fuelled by the lack of the need for learning. The faster the games spread their destructive ways, the faster the Word shrank and the faster our need lessened until now we were not allowed to be seen in public. We cowered in the shadows for fear those of us who wished to use the power of the Word, maybe get betrayed and our books burned in the square of the Game Lords; this is further proof of the power which their terror grips the cities.
At first, we thought The Word was about rebellion, and there were no followers in the main sections of our society. Our thoughts that the money the Game brought in got shared among the wealthy, therefore ensuring the continued growth of the industry would preclude any dissenters in the higher echelons of the communities. Little did we realize how wrong we were; even as our small groups struggled to escape detection and fight for our survival - inside the Game Lords there is a growing number of men and women who secretly challenge the powers of the Lords.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Amazon has the lead

It's a turnaround for my sales.
For the first time in four years, Amazon leads for sales this month 1 - 0 over Draft2Digital.


A frightening calm.
I should be excited and nervous at the possibility of my book being published, but I am not, why?
To save myself from disappointment, I try not to get too positive in my thoughts, that way I don't get too upset when nothing happens.

If I get the contact and a request for more stories, then I will get nervous.

Free short stories to read

Readers, not buyers.

As I have given up hope of selling my work, I am putting a lot of my stories on my friend's Disqus page

At the present rate of one or two a day, assuming I don't write anymore, I have enough to see me into the new year.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

What happened to Patti?

My first e-book was launched to praises.
This segment of my first story consists of less than half of the opening book in my series.

Here is the start of the first e-book I had for sale.
The cover below is the only prize I have won
I stood there, the gun still warm in my hand, barrel smoking from the gun battle.
“Why did he do that, Sarge? I tried my best to talk him out of it.”
“Living with the guilt finally got to him, Patti.”
“Couldn’t he have talked it over?”

“No, the only thing worse than being a dirty cop is being the son of a loose cannon, and none came looser than Bill Chart, Patti.”
I looked around. There lay the body of Bill's son, my ex-partner, Adrian Chart.
“I had no choice, he pulled first, Sarge," I said through my tears.
“I know, Patti, we all saw it. Nobody blames you. It was his way out.”
The last thing I remember was the Sarge saying in a soft tone, "Take a week off Patti, something like this will haunt you. I know. I have been there myself.” Dazed, I stood there, trying to remember how it had all started . . .
* * *

I'd wanted an office and had pestered the sergeant for months for a place to work. For my sins, I'd got this dark and dingy office with paperwork piled high of old, unsolved murders. The air was dank with the musty smell of old paper, a place where the light had long gone missing. This was Middleton Detective Agency. Even hardened drunks avoided this run down area of town. Sitting at the back of the office, I looked in desolation at the pile of old cases, Sgt. Pug Phillips had recently dumped on me. 
“Why don’t I get anything good?” I muttered, knowing nobody was listening, or if they were, they didn't care. Cold coffee was still on the table from last night, the ring marks showing how I had spent the long, hot and humid days at Middleton going over old and long-forgotten cases which had been given to me just so I'd have something to do
“A young girl, trying to do a man's job" is what the crew said on that first day months ago.”
Here I was, stuck at the back end of nowhere, in a dark office so lonely I had to get my own coffee and doughnuts. The guys never took any notice. I often wondered if they would notice if I just didn't turn up. “

I'd never been a girlie girl. I was always looking for a mystery to solve rather than play with dolls or admire film stars. And this was my reward! All I have is a deadbeat job in a run-down office, in the worst part of town.
Sometimes, I wish I'd just got married like the others; had a nice cozy life and a good husband, I muttered to myself – then, ‘Hell, no! Patti. Where did that come from, gal?” The drudgery and boredom were getting to me. All these cases! Some go back to the '20's. Most of the witnesses are dead now, I mumbled under my breath. Trust me to get cases that are not only cold, but deader than the dodo.
Sitting there alone, I was surprised to hear a knock on the door. I was more surprised that anyone knew where I was. Standing in the doorway was an old man, leaning on his cane.
“Please come in and sit down.”
“Thank you, young lady," he said. "I have information on an old case, you might like to re-open.”
“Why not ask at the desk?”
“They closed the book years ago, and don’t want old wounds re-opened, that is why.”
“Which case is this?”
“It's one from the '20s. It was the Morrissey & Jeffries case.”
“What can you tell me about it and why should we re-open it now?”
“I am telling you about it because my spirit is crossing and I want to clear this case up. You get it re-opened, and I will let you know what I know.”
“How can I trust you?”
“Just tell Pug, that Dennis spoke to you.”

The man got up and walked back down the corridor. When I got up to see which way he went, all I saw was a whiff of smoke. Looking through the case files I was totally disheartened to see how many had just been left open, with no closure for the families. Back then, the force could not spare the manpower to chase up leads, what with all the gangsters and bootlegging.
With Mayor Johnson going for a second term, he needed to show power to the mobs, so all the force was put on alert and other crimes became second rate.
“So sad," I thought. "These poor people never had closure.”
One thing about the Morrissey & Jeffries killing back in 1926 really caught my eye. Link Morrissey and his girl, Darlene Jeffries went for a drive, but never arrived at her parents' house, even though it was only twenty minutes across town.
Getting up from the desk, I walked back down the dark corridor to the elevator shaft. Pushing the button to call the aged machine into action, all I could hear was the grinding of gears, as the cable span on the wheel.
“Shit. Not again. When are they going to fix this damn thing?”
Setting off up the ten flights of stairs to the main office, I was already imagining the calls from the men, “Here comes Nancy Drew, lads.”

Leading the barrage, as always, would be Adrian Chart. The man was as roughneck as they came. If he did not draw blood, then it was a lousy fight. Seven years ago his old man, Bill Chart, had passed away, and Adrian was just like his dad. His wife had left him six years ago, and then he hit the bottle hard.
One theory as to why Chart kept his job was the bosses needed his street knowledge to track the mobs. As a cop, he was one of the worst on the force - but for cracking the heads of gangsters, he had no equal. They said he lost it all when Maggie left him. After that, he didn't care what happened. He'd go in first and take as many down as he could before a proper inquiry began.
The only trouble was, Chart was as much a threat to his colleagues as he was to the mobs. He was often so out of control that a situation that could have possibly been resolved often ended up almost as a gun battle.
Every day for the last month, when I've logged in, I've had to cope with Chart and his cronies jeering and catcalling. Chart and about eight other old-school cops call ladies ‘doll’, and they should stay at home and tend to the menfolk.
As I walked in, Chart swung around in his chair, “Well look who...”
As he spoke, I realized I had had enough. I felt the need to be recognized for what I do – now!

Before he could finish his sentence, I swung a left and hit him on the jaw. The force rocked him in his chair so violently that he banged his head on the desk.
“Anybody else wants to take on Nancy Drew? You over there – you look tough!
Chart's friends gaped, taken aback to see how easily he had been taken.
“Let me just inform you all - I might be female and ladylike most of the time, but you rile this gal, and she'll turn wildcat on you - so feel free fellows.”The squad room remained quiet as I walked to the sergeant's desk, my hips swinging with the grace of a gazelle. I gave them a smile and a wink.
I approached the desk with grace and poise, not letting the pain of the blow show, as I gritted teeth.
“Finally got what he deserved there, Patti,” the Sarge said. "Saw it building last week. I was halfway to telling him to back off ya, but knew the only way he would, is if you slugged him. Remind me not to get on your bad side. That was one hell of a left you packed, gal,” he said with a wink.
“That's nothing Sarge, you oughta see my right.”
“Where did you get those moves?"
“The wrong side of the wrong town; living hand to mouth; when you're fighting for anything, you learn not to back down. I don't look for fights, but I never back down."
“I don’t think he'll bother you none now, Patti.”
“Well not for a week or two. I know his sort, Sarge. He just festers away, waiting for a chance to get even. Sarge, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, Patti, what’s on your mind?”
“Sarge, do you remember the Morrissey & Jeffries case?"
“Of course I do. I was in my first year on the streets, and we never figured it out. It's bugged me ever since."

“I've been looking it over, and was wondering if you could you give me the background, as the notes are sketchy.”
“No problem. It was towards the end of Mayor Johnson's first term in office. The mobs were running us ragged. Everywhere we turned, they had us outgunned, outmanned and seemed to know our every move.”
“Do you think it was a leak from this side?”
“It certainly looked like it, but we couldn't find out who it was.”
“What was going on at the time?”
“Morrissey and the Jeffries families were two of the biggest families in Midtown. Duke Jeffries was the boss of the largest fleet of trucks in the area, and Mal Morrissey was the biggest maker of hooch. We got wind they were going to link up for a talk somewhere, but it never happened in the end.”
“Why didn’t it happen then?”
“When the shooting came, both families blamed each other, and never got to the table.”
“So who took over then?”
“That is the strange thing. Nobody stepped up to the plate. A power vacuum was created. Anyone could have taken charge and joined them as a neutral, but nobody did.”
“Were there any theories at the time?”
“There were loads of them, Patti. Maybe a hit from either side that they didn't want to take the rap for – or some even thought about an out-of-town hit man - they all held water -apart from one thing...”
“Nobody took charge when the dust settled?”
“Right, Patti. We never figured it out. Not then and not to this day.”
“So, what was with the young couple Sarge?

“Everyone thought this would be the perfect way for both sides to merge. They always were keen on each other, even in school. Parents just nudged nature along I guess. They were going over to Links’ to tell his family about the wedding day plans when suddenly the car swerved and went into the lake. Back then, Johnson Marrow was the only one who had a truck with a winch powerful enough to drag the car out of the lake. But he was way out of town and by the time he got back, the lake was frozen solid, and we couldn’t get at the car. When the ice melted in March the following year, nobody wanted to know.”
“Mayor Johnson's cleaning up was in full swing as he was back for a second term. He was purging the area of that type, and mobs were running scared of his men. Somehow we had stopped the leak and the power balance had swung back our way.”
“That is odd, the mayor plugging the leak, and coming back again.”
“What is the cause of your sudden interest in the case?”
“A man came into the office about twenty minutes ago, and told me he had some new information on the case.”
“Is he genuine?”
“I don’t know, Sarge. All he said was to tell you that his name is Dennis.”
The room went quiet. Looking about in astonishment, I said sheepishly, ‘Did I say something wrong?’
Pug took me aside to tell the story. "No, you didn’t say anything wrong, Patti. It's just that Dennis was my first partner. We were out on a call to the dockland area. We suspected hooch was coming across the border. Dennis and I were on the lookout. All was quiet at our end, then from out of nowhere there was a hail of bullets from behind us, and before I could turn around, there he was laying dead; my partner had been shot from behind. There was a search for the killer, but none ever turned up, and the case was forgotten in the rush to get the streets clean.”
“Sorry, Sarge, I didn’t know.”
“It’s OK, Patti. It was over twenty years ago, but it still haunts me. So what did Dennis tell you?”
“He said that if we re-open the case, he can give us new information on the hit.”
“Patti, tell him we will open it up. Leave the chief to me. We all want that case closed. Dennis was there for many of us, and we have all felt the loss.”
I went back to my dingy office to check the open case files. I tried to find any possible new roads of inquiry I could take. It should have been easy as so little had been done about the case. It had been a double mob killing, but no-one had taken the reins again after all had settled down.
The more I looked into it, the more holes I found. There were missing reports, evidence lost, leads not followed up – none of it made sense – or did it? I closed the file, and there it was for me to see. The officer investigating the crime was Detective Sergeant Bill Chart.

Can Smashwords help break the slump?

Opening my old account.
 For my sins, I have re-opened my old account on   Smashwords

 I say old because I opened it several years ago but had trouble with their strict guidelines, so I stopped using the site.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Time to chill

Time to relax with a good book.
Unlike some authors, I don't get a boost with Christmas sales. My boost used to happen at this time of year until last year.

The slump that began before Christmas 2017 continued until February this year and only stopped for a month.

It's soul-destroying to be a writer and put some many months into a book that won't sell.

A hot new romance

Supernatural romance comes home to roost.
There isn't anything tame about this romance between a young lady, and a mysterious stranger with a hidden family secret and supernatural powers. 

Get your Fantasy at a bargain price

To Elfenmere.
 I did plan to add this story into, but the plan got out of hand, so it's available as a stand-alone story