RIP Smokey

Fantasy world

Been a while … I keep saying that I know, but I get so easily distracte …. ooo butterfly!!! where wa I? Oh, yes, I get easily distracted, and my latest distraction is creating a fantasy world, with the end goal that I will eventually write some of the fantasy/sci fi/whatever the hell theme is stuck in my head and free me up to write stuff I can actually give a genre to (not holding my breath on that though.) So, with that aim in mind, this is the first segment of my fantasy world …. still in the creation process so it could all change massively, but I thought I’d throw it out there and see if anyone had any ideas.

Basically, it;’s a sandy/rocky section of my world, with a couple of rivers, one of which runs through a canyon, the entrance to which is flanked by huge carvings, and where the people live in hollowed out rock houses. and the other runs straight through the land, from the massive inland lake (light blue) to the ocean (dark blue).

New Fiction – work in progress

I know, I’ve been quiet lately. Too quiet. Well that’s because I’m working on my next novel. Very slowly. It was originally intended to be a follow up to Tom Calder, but my brain refused to cooperate, and so I’ve gone down a completely different road. This is a Very rough draft of chapter one. I’d be interested to know if you think it’s worth me continuing.


Chapter 1

“Mom, where’s my homework?”

“Where did you leave it?”

“It’s not there.”

“Well, I didn’t move it, Ethan. Look again.”

“It’s not there.”

I grinned at Noah over the breakfast table. Another normal morning in our household. My eldest son was turning his room upside down, searching for something, my wife was in our bedroom, trying to get ready for work, and my youngest son and I were left to eat our breakfast in peace and quiet. “Any idea where your brother left his homework?”

Noah grinned back and shrugged slightly. “I think he put it in his bag, ready for this morning.”

I stood up, dropped my empty bowl into the dishwasher, and headed to the hallway. Ethan’s school bag was near the front door, ready to go. I peered up the stairs, wincing at the thuds and bangs from Ethan’s room. “I don’t suppose you checked your school bag?”

The thuds and bangs stopped, there was a moment of relative peace, and then Ethan came charging down the stairs with all the grace of a baby elephant. An unkind analogy perhaps, as Ethan is a slender build and definitely doesn’t have a trunk or big ears, but he tends to charge everywhere at full speed, and at 11 years old, his limbs are not always the most co-ordinated. He skidded to a halt and grabbed the bag from my hands, unzipping it hurriedly, before letting out a whoop of delight and relief.

“Got it. Thanks, dad.”

“Don’t thank me, thank your brother. It was his suggestion.”

“Thanks, Noah.”

“No worries.” Noah wandered into the hallway, with the lunch boxes. He handed one to his brother. “Turkey today.”

“Cool, thanks mom.” Ethan stuffed his box into his bag rather haphazardly, as his mother appeared at the top of the stairs.

Ellie always takes my breath away, whether she’s dressed to impress, hot and sweaty from a long run, or dressed for work, like right now. A well fitting, navy business suit somehow set off her dark brown wavy hair, and showed off her extremely shapely legs. If we worked in the same office, I doubt I’d ever get any work done. Luckily, she’s a finance manager in a medical center in downtown Sacramento, while I’m an IT technician for an engineering company in the east of the city, so it’s never likely to be a problem.

“Has everyone got everything?” asked Ellie. “Ethan, you have your homework? Noah, you got the lunches? Scott, you made sure the back door is locked and you have your car keys?”

We have the whole getting to school routine down to a fine art. Ellie drives Ethan to his middle school, and then carries on to her job. Meanwhile, I walk Noah to his elementary school, walk back, pick up the car, and then drive to work. Quite why she needs to make sure I have my car keys before I walk to Noah to school has never made any sense to me, but she asks the same questions every day, and I always know where my car keys are before we set out, so maybe there is method in her madness.

We waved Ethan and Ellie off, and Noah and I set off for school. It’s only a 15 minute walk, but it gives us time talk. Or at least, it gives Noah time to talk if he feels like it without his brother or his mom interrupting. And Noah can ask some really strange questions. I’ve had ‘Are there more leaves in the world or blades of grass?’, ‘What is the name of the space between the bits that stick out on a comb?’, and ‘Is this real life?’. I’m still not sure I actually know the answers to any of those questions, but I’ve always managed to give him an answer he seems satisfied with. Noah is definitely the curious intellectual type, whereas Ethan is always running around and leaping over things. They are very different, and completely lovable in their own ways. Today I knew what the question was going to be before he asked it, so for once, I was prepared.

“Daddy, what exactly is ADHD?”

“It’s a medical condition. It’s what makes Ethan a pain in the neck sometimes. Why he doesn’t always pay attention and has way too much energy. His brain doesn’t always work the same speed as other peoples.”

“So will I get it too?”

I shook my head with a grin. “No, Tiger, it’s something you’re born with. You can’t catch it, and you don’t develop it, you either have it or you don’t, and I don’t think you have it. You can sit quietly and read a book for hours. Ethan gets bored way too quickly for that.”

Noah nodded, thinking that over. “Can he be cured?”

“No. He’ll always have it. He might grow out of it as he gets older, or he might just learn to live with it. There are medicines he can take to help him focus, but they might not work. We just have to find the best way of coping with it, for Ethan and for us.”

Noah screwed his face up, a sure sign he was thinking hard. I was worried maybe I’d given him too much information, and that maybe I should have made if fluffier somehow. The doctors had suggested we tell him that Ethan’s brain was like a race car, but it ran at a different speed to other peoples brains. That was the kind of explanation Noah would have accepted when he was four, but he was eight now, going on 30 some days, and he’d have felt patronized. Besides, Noah and I had a deal. He could ask me anything he wanted, and I’d try my best to give him a straight answer.

“So, he’s not broken, just different. Maybe even special, in a way.”

I pondered this for a moment, wondering when my youngest son had got so wise. Then again, this was Noah. He’d been born wise. “Maybe so, yes, but for God’s sake, don’t tell him that. ADHD is not an excuse for him to get away with murder. Deal?” I held my fist towards him and was rewarded with an immediate fist bump.


Noah was quiet and thoughtful for the rest of the journey to school, but he waved me off with a smile and immediately ran to join in a game of basketball with his friends, so I figured he wasn’t going to spend the whole day fixating on ADHD. Hopefully.

The journey to work was relatively painless, and my morning tasks were fairly simple, allowing me to at least partially think of ways to help Ethan cope with his ADHD. The doctor had suggested exercise, and since Ethan loved to run about, I was wondering about taking him running with me. Or cycling. Or maybe that camping trip we’d been talking about for ages. I’d just sat down to eat my lunch when the intercom called me to reception. I sighed, closed the lid on my lunch box, and trudged off, wondering what Ethan had done now. We had hoped that once we had an ADHD diagnosis, the school would cut him a bit of slack, but maybe that had been too much to ask for. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but two police officers waiting patiently by the reception desk wasn’t it.


“Mr Walker?”

I nodded.

“I’m terribly sorry, but there’s been an accident.”

Acknowledgements for Tom Calder – Surfer PI

I would like to express my gratitude to all those who provided support, talked things over, read, offered comments and assisted in the creation of this book.

Thanks specifically to Noor, Marie, Rousseau, Amanda, Lesley, Sidh, Blue, Zelkina, and especially to Aurore … your support means a lot.

Above all I would like to thank my family, who supported and encouraged me in spite of the fact that they’d much rather I’d fixed the squeaking gate or fed the goat.

And yes, these acknowledgements are genuinely in the front of the paperback version, and at the ed of the Kindle version. And I genuinely mean them. So there.

Published —- argh

It’s done. I’ve hit the publish button, and … it’s live. I still can’t believe it, but here you go.

Tom Calder – Surfer PI … available now on Amazon in kindle ($0.99 … or $1.27, meh I set it at $0.99) or paperback format ($6.00). Interestingly, the UK kindle version is free with Kindle Unlimited. I have no idea. I clicked all the stuff it said, and Amazon kinda did their own thing. Anyways, that’s sorta what it should be, so enjoy 🙂

US Version –    UK Version –

Tom Calder – Surfer PI

Tom Calder is a surfer who, for the last couple of years, has earned a crust as a private detective. It’s not as glamorous as it may sound. Basically, he gets to follow guys around and find out if they’re cheating on their wife, and vice versa. Leaping into the ocean and dragging people screaming to the shoreline is not his normal day to day business. And neither is investigating the murder of a teenage girl whose parents run a successful charity. Chances were, this wasn’t going to be an average week.

Available now on Amazon in kindle or paperback format

Alternatively, for the UK version

And still publishing ….


Writing this damn book was easier than sorting out the cover. Struggled for 2 hours to get a picture of the right dpi. Each time I select one, even their inbuilt pictures, the DPI is wrong. Eventually, after much swearing, using an online program and saving the file in some weird format, I actually made the right picture the right DPI. Wooohooo. So, final checks, then I can click publish … and then wait 72 hours … and betting I tweak things before I ever let anyone know what the link is? For like maybe a week. Basically, on the home stretch, but don’t hold your breath just yet.

Still publishing

So, I’ve decided to self publish … got my Amazon account all hooked up and downloaded their templates and software to help me create my ebook and print edition. The ebook creation went fairly well. The ebook cover was fairly painless. Well, alright, so it took a lot of tweaking and playing with, but it’s the first time I’ve done this, so there’s a learning curve. Set a price of $0.99 – the lowest price I could select – which gives me $0.35 per book sold. So far, so good. All I have to do now is click publish, and I’m good to go. But before I do that, time to sort out the print version. (Well, I want an actual physical version of my book in my hand … I know, but I Want One).


Ok, so I selected everything and then had to choose a size. I went for the standard settings on the grounds that everyone can’t be wrong (I hope). Then I downloaded yet another template and entered my text. Easy, right? Wrong. Well, it was easy, but when I upload it, my contents page is outside the margins, and my page breaks are completely mad. Ok, so today is gonna be a fun editing day. Tomorrow the print cover ….. this could take longer that I hoped.

To be continued.

Publishing a book

Ok, so long time since I posted, but that’s because I’ve been busy in RL, and on polishing my Tom Calder/nano story for publication. Should be ready within the week (fingers and toes crossed). More news to follow.

Just because …