Work in Progress: Reaching a Climax

Ooh er!

No not that. I’ve been here before, climaxing at around 90,000 words with the end of the first draft in sight, and, today, that’s exactly where I am with ‘A Fall from Grace’, the second book in the new Delamere Files series.

I’m pleased to say that ‘Finding a Way’ is doing well, and has already received one glowing review, which includes: I was hooked on this story from the very first sentence. As always, great characters are introduced to the reader and some cameo appearances of characters from previous series just tied everything so perfectly together.

Thank you for that Charles!

I am aiming to have A Fall from Grace first draft completed by this time next week at the latest.

Meanwhile, I am taking part in a book promotion or two during September, and there will be news about this in a newsletter in the next couple of days. If you’ve not subscribed to my (very) occasional newsletters, you can do so from the Newsletter Page.

Finding a Way: Background Chapters – part two

Today, as promised, you have the second part of the first chapter of ‘Finding a Way’ that was cut and replaced with the first chapter as you have it now… Confused? Don’t be.

Last Saturday we had part one, and today part two, so you can always go back to last week’s post to start from the beginning. This chapter (and the one I will post next week), constituted the original opening for the book. I later decided they were more about me telling myself the backstory, and I ditched them, using only the salient parts in the final draft.

Just to remind you, this is 1st draft material and has not been properly proofread.

Will was more than Jack’s best friend and brother; he was also his responsibility and had been since he was born. On the outside, his younger brother was as fit and able as any twenty-year-old, as bonny as any other young man who lived on a diet of whatever Grandma Ida could find for the few shillings remaining after Reggie’s cab week, and although narrow of body, he was not underfed and never looked starved. It was inside that his problem lay, a problem no doctor had yet been able to name or treat.

Whatever the name for his strangeness, Will was not an imbecile. Jack had taught him to read and write, their grandmother had taught him to sew and wash clothes, but no employer would entertain him on account of his mannerisms; the way chairs had to be square-on to the table, the cutlery perpendicular, the plates washed twice, and the bedding turned down just so. There were never complaints or tantrums if these things were not done to Will’s satisfaction, he would merely move the furniture he thought out of place, or brush the dust from the blanket, turn the pot on the stove to the correct angle, or untie Jack’s boot laces when left by the door, and set them straight. To the family, this was just how Will was, but to anyone else, they were signs of inherent madness, and to strangers, that made him untrustworthy.

When his brother was twelve, Jack persuaded his foreman to give Will a day ticket to work. He wanted to prove to himself and the family that his brother could do more than read books, or stare at the embroidery hanging over the mantelpiece until, driven by frustration, he took it down, unpicked every strand, and sewed it back together because one stitch had been incorrect. Jack had faith in him, and Will was keen to show he could be useful.

The foreman was not impressed. Charged with stacking the sacks Jack was unloading from a clipper, Will was set to work in a warehouse where older, gruffer men swore and whistled as they hauled and handled. Having delivered his first load, and shown Will what to do, Jack returned to the ship to take on a second wagon-full and drove the cart back to the stores. There, to his dismay, he found Will had set the sacks in a line, opened them, and was transferring grain from one to the other so that each was exactly the same level. They were discovered before Jack could put things right, and Will was dismissed on the spot. Had Jack not spent years in the docks lifting and carrying, tending horses, and making himself invaluable, he too would have been out of work, but he was strong, reliable and never complained. The foreman docked him two day’s pay, and told him to ‘Get that idiot out of my stores,’ and he never tried the experiment again.

Will was not an idiot, and neither was Jack. It was clear to see that without two incomes, the family would soon be homeless. The rooms were not big enough to take in lodgers, although apartments with ten in two rooms was not uncommon in their street, but Ida had standards, and they were to be kept no matter the pain in the stomach or the chill in the air. It was bad enough for four of them to sleep in one room, live and eat in the other, and share the privy with four families, so renting out space was not an option. Nor was increasing his hours at the docks, because the company didn’t allow that, and neither would it have been possible for him to find night work and labour twenty-four hours a day.

There was only one way Jack could think of to earn enough to support everyone, and it involved a walk, a lot of thinking and a risk. If the first stage of his barely thought-out plan was a success, several months of hard work would follow, and that would have to be done while he continued to work his docker’s ticket. At some point, there would be a test, and he would need a license, but he was a fast learner, and already knew the layout of the East End. Learning the rest would take time, but it was not an impossible task and, thanks to Reggie’s years on the rank, he had contacts.

One of them was exactly where Jack knew he would be, smoking his pipe outside Limehouse railway station, chatting to another cabman, and complaining about the weather. On seeing Jack, the old man removed his cap and waved it towards his hansom while throwing up his arms.

‘Reggie can’t work,’ Jack called ahead. ‘Had a fit.’


‘Had a fit,’ he repeated when he arrived, hot but not out of breath after the long walk. ‘Can’t work no more.’

‘Why, you be pulling a me leg, ain’t you, Skip?’

Mr Hart had called Jack that name since he could remember. Skip Jacks were the boys of nag dealers, employed to ride them during sales, and Jack was good with horses.

‘Ain’t, Mr Hart. Grandad got a shock and fell down. Doctor says there’s no getting him right.’

Jack told him what had happened, and Hart passed on the news to his fellow cabmen, all of whom offered their sympathies and promised to visit when they could.

‘Yeah, well, he don’t need sympathy and hellos,’ Jack said, filling his pipe as the men returned to their groups and fares. ‘He needs a favour, Mr Hart. Rather, I do, and I was hoping you’d help me out with it.’

‘I’ll do what I can, son, but I’m guessing you’re heading for the lend of money, and I can’t ask the Mission to help you with that.’

‘That’s not it. I got my six days a week at West India. It won’t keep us for long, and I ain’t got none put by, none of has, but I got a plan, and I need your help with it.’

‘Not following you, Skip,’ Mr Hart said, holding a match to the bowl of Jack’s pipe.

‘Knowledge, Mr Hart, that’s what I want. Can you help me with it?’

‘Now you’re thinking I’m some schoolteacher? You sure it ain’t you what’s had a fit?’

‘No. I need to learn the streets.’

One of the first things Jack remembered about his grandfather’s oldest friend was the way his eyebrows met in the middle when he pulled a face. He was sure he’d done it to him as a baby, because behind him in the distant vision, were Reggie and Ida, laughing, and Jack could recall stretching out a hand and touching the strange man’s side whiskers. They had been black then, but now they were as white as a new sheet, as were his eyebrows which met, not to cause laughter, but in confusion.


‘How long will it take me? I know most of Whitechapel and Limehouse, Millwall of course, and far up as Mile End, but…’

‘Now hang on, Skip. What you saying? You want to take over Reggie’s cab?’

‘That’s the measure of it.’

‘You can’t just do that. ’Ere!’ Hart called to another on the rank. ‘Skip thinks he can get up there and nick our job quick as you like. Wants to learn the knowledge.’

‘Let him,’ one of the others called down from his seat before snapping his whip and clattering into traffic.

‘Yer, get started now, Skip, and you might be driving come Christmas,’ another encouraged. ‘You understand the nags, you only got a learn the rest.’

‘Christmas next year at least,’ Mr Hart said. ‘You can’t just get in a cab and off you go, Son. You got a learn…’

‘The streets. I know, and you know them, and you know what’s the easiest way for me to remember them. Will you learn me?’

‘What, just like that?’ Hart flicked away the match and laughed. ‘Getting the test’ll take you two years, and you never stop learning. They keep putting in new roads, new buildings going up, even new bloody bridges, which, I admit, are easier to find. You got a know not only your patch, but anywhere from Enfield to Epsom, what theatres chuck out what time, what master’s yard offers decent rates, and none of them do, not no more. Then there’s your charges. How you going to start if you ain’t got nothing put by? No, Son, you want to step into Reggie’s shoes, then get yourself better docking. You’re built for that, so stick to it. You’ve always been good at lifting and carting, you don’t want a be sitting up there in all weathers freezing your Tommy’s off, and getting the rheumatism from the wind. You’ll turn to drink when you’re bored, and there’s never a guarantee you’re going to make any more than the East India pays you.’

Jack had expected this and, on his way, had made his calculations.

‘I see it this way, Mr Hart. I get twenty-four shillings a week from the docks. If Grandma Ida can get some poor relief on the rent for a couple of months, my pay’ll cover all else, with some put aside. Hold on…’ Pointing his pipe prevented the old man from interrupting. ‘I know what you’re going to say. Reggie was putting out over a hundred and fifty pounds a year to rent the hansom and horse, right? It’s twelve shillings a week for winter, up to nineteen ’round Derby and Ascot weeks, but at that time, I can make three quid on each ride to the races, and it’s back to eleven a week come August. To pay the hire, yard and boy, I got to make ten shillings a day, six days a week to keep even, but there’s more than five million potential fares a day out there, so I reckon there’s room for me. I got the costs in me head, and I know what I’ll need to pay for the house and Will on top. You know Will can’t work much on account of his strangeness, but he’s been taking in some sewing, and now we’re going to need medicines for Reggie, and Ida’s getting along towards seventy, though she takes in a bit of washing. I thought it through, Mr Hart. I just need to know how to learn the streets, and how to get me licence. I’ll rent from Harris on me own badge same as you and Reggie. Now then, you’ve been Reggie’s best man since before me dad was born—Oh, he died last night, by the way, but none of us is bothered. So, I reckon, if you want to help your oldest mate, right now dribbling down his chin cos one half of him’s not working, the least you can do is point me in the right direction.’

‘That was quite a speech,’ someone said after a moment’s silence. ‘The lad’s thought about it.’

Other cabbies had come to listen, because there was never much to do at that time of day in Limehouse, and the next train wasn’t due in for ten minutes.

‘Yeah. Thought about it for the half hour it took him to walk over,’ Mr Hart said, studying Jack with his yellowing eyes and sympathetic frown. ‘Your dad died?’

‘Yeah. Fell down at the feet of Marie Lloyd halfway through the gallery song. Dead as a donkey. Probably got the biggest applause of his career, but I ain’t bothered about him. Now, what d’you say?’

‘I say it’s a pretty rubbish song in any case, Skip.’

‘The knowledge?’

Mr Hart stared at him and shook his head in resignation. ‘Two year at least,’ he warned. ‘That’s what it’ll take you. You got over two hundred miles of streets, more than twenty thousand street names, the routes, cut-throughs, tolls, the way the police watch you, and how things work. That’s without trying to make ten bob a day. Think you can do it?’

‘I don’t need you to put me off, Uncle Bob, I need you to help me out, and help out Reggie and Ida, but mainly, I need you to help me help Will. What d’you say?’

Maybe it was because he’d called him Uncle Bob, and been familiar rather than polite, but the old man’s eyes narrowed as he sucked on his dead pipe, and he glanced at his colleagues gathered to the side, his white eyebrows asking the question on his behalf.

‘If he’s got the stamina and the brains,’ a cabman said.

‘He’s got them alright,’ Hart muttered as if jealous. ‘But the time?’

‘I can put in five or six hours a night, and all day Sundays,’ Jack said. ‘That’d still give me time to sleep.’

‘The nipper’s got it all planned, Bob. No changing his mind.’

‘There ain’t.’

‘But I got to sleep an’all, Skip.’

‘Ah, you’re getting old,’ another cabman laughed. ‘The way I see it, young Jack, is this. Us men what wait and drive, drive and wait, we look after our own, and Reggie’s one of us, so that makes you family an’all. I’d be happy to take you out a couple of hours one night a week.’

‘Yeah, and me on Sundays,’ said another. ‘Least, a few times.’

‘Scottie’s the best for the cut-throughs,’ another said. ‘He’ll do it, won’t you?’

‘Who’ll pay me?’


‘Keep your bible out of it, Stan,’ someone laughed. ‘The lad’s keen, he’s quick, and most of all, he’s Reggie’s boy. I’ll learn him the West End.’

Charlie, a younger cabbie, volunteered to teach Jack south of the river and the bridges, while others offered their time here and there, but only because he was Reggie Merrit’s grandson, and cabmen were a fraternity, and before Jack had a chance to thank them, or take in the enormity of what he’d started, even Mr Hart agreed to teach him one night each week, although they all decided Jack would have to pay part of the cab hire because they would be working longer hours.

‘Study hard, Jack, and you’ll get your badge,’ Hart said. ‘I’ll have a word with Harris, he’s slippery, but the easiest to hire from, and he’s got a lad at the stables who’ll teach you the tack and traces.’

‘I’m ahead of you there, Uncle Bob. Been carting nearly ten years, ain’t I?’

‘True enough, but it’s different.’

‘When can I start?’

‘You can start right now,’ the younger driver said. ‘You can ride with me. Me nag ain’t called Blister for nothing, she’ll pull the extra weight.’

Mr Hart gave a final sigh of defeat. ‘Alright, Skip. There’s more than seven thousand of us on the stands, another won’t make a difference.’

You can find ‘Finding a Way’ on Amazon, paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Chapter two, part one will be posted next Saturday.

The Delamere Files: Progress

Finding a Way

I released the first in the new series of The Delamere Files last week, and the story is up and running. Finding a Way introduces us to new characters in the Clearwater world of London in 1892, and sets the scene for things to come with a case involving a London cabbie, a criminal gang and a couple of characters from the previous two series. It is too early to say how the series will run in terms of popularity, but it’s off to a reasonable start after its release.

A Fall from Grace

The second book continues the main relationships between the principal characters with a change in circumstances and a new investigation. I am still working through the first draft, and my desk is still covered with notes and charts as I keep an eye on all the details developing through the story.

I am now at 77,000 words and approaching the crisis, climax, ‘smoking gun’ reveal, and the aftermath sections, which should take me nicely to the target 100,000 words, before I set about the rewrites and tidying up. Last night, I had something of a ‘that’s too obvious’ moment, which I have noted and will address as I progress to the crisis, which I aim to do later today.

As for a release date… I am aiming to have this book finished and ready to go by the end of September, so if you are reading book one, you won’t have to wait too long for book two.

The Clearwater Calendar

Also this week, I have been putting together a wall calendar for 2024. We have just released Neil’s Symi Dream calendar, a thing he has done every year since he had his photo business on the island. We use a company that produces good-quality products that showcase Neil’s photography, and the calendars have proved very popular. We were talking about it the other day when one of us suggested I make one based on the Clearwater front covers. Lo and behold, when I returned to the computer, I’d had exactly the same suggestion from one of my supporters (thanks, Loz, great minds and all that). I have spent the last few days putting something together and have ordered a trial one to see how it looks. All being well, you will be able to order a Clearwater calendar in plenty of time for the end of the year. More news to come in time. For now, it’s back to the keyboard, my new mystery, and my approaching crisis which will, after a twist, lead to a climax, and the Delamere Files will move forward.

Finding a Way: Background Chapters

For the next four weeks, I’m going to post the first two chapters of ‘Finding a Way’, the first of the Delamere Files series. These are not the first two chapters you will read in the published book, they are chapters I cut from the final book.

This was how I started writing the story. However, I soon realised that this was all backstory and didn’t make for a very punchy opening, and I was writing it to secure Jack Merrit’s history in my mind. This is why I cut them from the final draft.

Rather than post each 3,000-word chapter in one go, I have cut them in half to make it easier to read online. Remember, this is first draft material, so it’s not been honed or proofed or even worked on very much. It might, though, give you some background to how Jack became a cabbie, and it will tell you a little more about him and his brother Will. These first two chapters don’t give anything away, so reading them won’t spoil the book for you, though some of what’s in them, I later put into the final draft of ‘Finding a Way’ because it was necessary to do so.

Here is the first half of the original Chapter One of ‘Finding a Way.’

Limehouse, London


Jack Merrit’s grandfather began work as a cabman on the day that Brunell launched the SS Great Eastern at Millwall in eighteen fifty-eight. Some said it was an unlucky ship, because a previous launch attempt had caused two fatalities, and the great steamship, the largest ever built at that time, had become wedged on the ramp. This, however, did not deter the civil engineer, and nor did it discourage the then forty-year-old Reggie Merrit from attending the second launch, having arrived there with his first fare-paying passengers in his hired hansom. The birth of the massive ship marked the beginning of his thirty-year career on the London streets, sitting high above his cab, transporting the good, the wealthy and the misbehaved from one location to another.

Reggie had been married for twenty tears by then, and working as a labourer on the very ship he watched clank and grate into the river that January morning. With the ticket to labour concluded, however, and with no other prospect of dock work, he’d used his savings to learn the trade of a cabman and secure a vehicle rental from a dispatch office.

‘It’ll be far better money,’ he told his wife, Ida, as he left to collect his hansom on his first day. ‘We’ll have something to give the young’un for his marrying, and soon be out of Limehouse and somewhere further west. You’ll see.’

When their only son, Samson, married the following year, they were still living in the rented tenement by the Isle of Dogs, where the stink of the river choked, and the walls ran black with factory soot. Four years later, their first grandson, John Anthony Merrit, screamed into life on the parlour floor, delivered by Ida and a midwife who offered nothing more than rebuke for not pushing harder and a mug of gin for the pain.

The smell of the river and a new sugar factory were still tainting the washing two years later, when Samson’s wife gave birth to a stillborn, and two years after that, when the second grandson, William, came. His arrival was quieter than his brother’s, and he was slower to arrive, but at least he was breathing.

The factory whistles continued to slice into the family’s life even when Samson found good work in the theatres and became a popular artiste in the music halls. Although well paid and highly thought of, much written about in the newspapers and lauded for his ability to entertain, Samson Merrit did not entertain the idea of being a father. With Reggie and Ida bringing up two children he hadn’t wanted, and with his wife vanished as soon as she’d dumped the second boy on him, he moved himself to digs in Clapton, and ultimately, to a finer part of Hackney. There, the only way his parents or children heard of him was from the variety newspapers and bill posters, and, when Jack was twenty-four, via a messenger from Shoreditch who brought news of a tragedy.

Samson Merrit suffered an untimely but entertaining death on the stage of the Shoreditch Music Hall early in ninety-one. He left behind his two sons, a shocked audience, and an even more shocked Marie Lloyd, with whom he had been performing a duet version of ‘The Boy I Love is up in the Gallery.’ The coroner said the cause of death was heart failure and had nothing to do with his fellow performer. Ida Merrit said he’d had it coming and good riddance, but on hearing the news, Reggie suffered apoplexy that brought an end to his cabbing career the moment he staggered backwards into his chair and collapsed.

Thirty-three years after promising his wife he would better their lives, and despite his son’s success, Reggie had continued to work his cab, and Ida never reminded him of his promise, but kept their rooms as best she could, while caring for two grandsons she had nurtured into men. Working at the docks like his grandfather had, Jack’s income helped the four survive, but there was never a chance William would work and contribute. When Samson died, there was no will, and even if there had been, and even if he had mentioned in it his children, it would have amounted to nothing, because all he owned were debts.

Thus, on the day his grandfather became immobile, while the doctor advised Reggie to take plenty of enemas and drink dark ale, Jack stood thinking and knew something had to be done. His wages as a carter and shifter at the Millwall docks barely covered his contributions for food and left nothing for the care of his brother. With Grandfather Reggie unable to work, his grandmother now nearing seventy, and Will being unemployable, he had, in the stroke of Reggie’s apoplexy, become the breadwinner, and he needed a better job.

His mind worked as fast as his eyes as he scanned the cramped parlour, the shared bedroom through the torn curtain, the stone sink and pot-bellied stove until they came to rest on his brother, sitting vacant in the corner, staring, as he always did, at the pages of a book. The only indication young Will understood their predicament came in the flow of a solitary tear, possibly for a father he’d never known, but more likely for his grandfather. It trickled over his pale cheek, and dropped onto his once-white shirt, while he blinked as though trying to understand what was happening around him, and failing.

Jack’s gaze next fell on the pantry shelf and the half loaf of bread and two wrinkled potatoes, and thence beyond the curtain to the bed, where his once cheerful and lively grandfather, the man who had cared for him, educated him, and paid for Will’s doctors, now lay incapable of doing anything but wait for death.

‘I’m going out,’ Jack told his grandmother. ‘I won’t be long.’
‘Where to? Your father’s to be buried, your grandad’s not far from it, and you’re off down the Waterman’s Arms?’
‘No, to see Bob Hart.’
‘What for? The Cabmen’s Mission won’t give us no charity. They only give out God, and what use is that?’
‘I’m not looking for either, Grandma. I’ll be back before dark.’

Turning to Will, and taking his hands as he crouched, Jack made the same promise to his brother as Reggie had once made to Ida.

‘I’m going to find good work, Will. One day I’ll get us both out of this place. You stay and look after Grandma. You’ll behave, won’t you?’

Will gave one of his common smiles; a sideways twist of the mouth that suggested acquiescence, but usually meant mischief. It was not what anyone would expect of a twenty-year-old, but then, Will was only that age in body; he was much older in mind.
‘Promise me, Will?’
‘Yeah, alright. Where you going?’
‘You’ll see soon enough.’
‘Can I come?’
‘Not today.’
‘But where you going?’
‘Just out.’
‘Will granddad die?’
‘Not today.’
‘Samson was our dad, yeah?’
‘Yes, Will. Now, look after grandma.’
‘What’s an enema?’
Jack took his brother’s cheeks in his hands and turned his face away from the bed.
‘You’re my best mate, remember?’
‘Yes, Jack. I always remember.’

You can find ‘Finding a Way’ on Amazon, paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Chapter one, part two will be posted next Saturday.

Finding a Way is on its Way

I was planning to upload and release ‘Finding a Way’ yesterday, but discovered a couple of last-minute typos, so had the guys fix them. I’m going to upload it as soon as I have posted this blog, and the link will be on the Saturday blog, no doubt, and on my Facebook pages.

A Fall from Grace

The second book in the new series, which continues the events two weeks after book one, is now at 65,000 words (out of an estimated 100,000), and after a week of finalising book one and rereading the draft so far of book two to remind myself where I was, I am, today, getting back to the job of typing.

Before I do that, I wanted to draw your attention to another homegrown product.

Symi Dream Calendar 2024

Excuse this step away from my books. Every year, my husband puts together a calendar of shots from Symi, the Greek island where we live. He’s been doing this for years, ever since he had his photography business and shop. Next year’s calendar has just gone live, and I thought I would let you know in case you were interested.

There’s one large image per month, a grid-style layout for each month with boxes large enough for quick notes and reminders, and there are no pre-marked special days cluttering up your pages. If you want a calendar with large images of where we live, then this is for you.

You can only buy this online from this one outlet. We’ve managed to keep the price to under €20.00 (which is what they were available for back in the days of the shop), though postage isn’t included, and prices vary slightly according to your country.

Click this link to get to the Symi Dream Calendar 2024, or click the image.

Finding a Way: Release Week

Here’s the news:

Later this week, I will be releasing ‘Finding a Way’, the first in my new Victorian mystery series. I don’t have an actual date for this because I don’t do pre-orders. Instead, I upload the files to Amazon when they are ready, and Amazon then releases the book. Sometimes, this takes a couple of hours, and at other times, it can take a day or two. Recently, publication has been happening within a short time, and often, my loyal readers receive notifications from Amazon before I do. Also, I am in Europe and Amazon is based in the USA, and I never know which day is which.

I will, of course, announce the release on my Facebook pages when the book is published.

I have revamped the blurb for the book and the series, so here they are with the cover.

When he is robbed by a fare, London cabman, Jack Merrit, thinks his life is over, but then he meets the dashing writer of social observations, Larkin Chase, a man in search of love.

Larkin sees the chance for Jack to earn a twenty-pound reward. All Jack has to do is identify the pair of crooks that robbed him, but the crooks are part of a notorious East End gang who know no boundaries when silencing a witness. Despite the possibilities Larkin offers, Jack’s world begins to crumble. He must either deny or allow his unnatural desire, and decide if he is to see justice done and win his reward. But when an equally dashing young detective arrives on the scene, Jack’s life becomes even more complicated.

Finding a Way is the first of a new series of thrilling Victorian mysteries.

If you enjoyed the Clearwater Mysteries and Larkspur Mysteries, you’ll love this book. There is no need to read them before you buy now before the price changes!

The series blurb looks like this:

The Delamere Files

The secrets of London’s Victorian underworld are revealed in The Delamere Files, the latest instalment in the highly successful Clearwater Mysteries and Larkspur Mysteries series.

It is 1892, and the Clearwater Detective Agency is tasked with the difficult job of solving crimes involving men who love men while maintaining complete discretion in a society where homosexuality is punishable by up to two years in prison with hard labour.

Follow the lives of Jack Merrit, Jimmy Wright and their fellow private investigators as they uncover the mysteries of a world in which they themselves are considered criminals.

In true Jackson Marsh style, you can expect a mix of historical mystery, MM romance, bromance and adventure, and you’ll be kept on the edge of your seat throughout.

If you enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes series, you’ll love The Delamere Files. Buy now before the price changes!

Finding a Way has Almost Found its Way

‘Finding a Way’, the first in my new series of Victorian mysteries, has nearly found its way to your Kindle and bookshelf. Meanwhile, the sequel to it, ‘A Fall from Grace’ is also doing well. Here is the news on both:

Finding a Way

The first book in the series sets up the three main characters and the underlying villains who will continue through a series of investigations. The baddies won’t appear in every book, but they will make appearances as and when least expected.

I have the cover, another triumph for Andjela V, and it has received excellent feedback from members of my private Facebook group, Jackson’s Deviant Desires, which you are welcome to join. The blurb is ready, and here it is:

It began with a man sobbing in the night.

Twenty-five-year-old Jack Merrit struggles to make a living as a London cabbie, and when he is robbed by a fare, he can see no future for himself and his beloved younger brother, Will.

Enter Larkin Chase. A dashing writer of social observations and a man in search of love. After learning Jack’s story, Larkin sees the chance for him to earn a twenty-pound reward. All he has to do is identify the pair of crooks that robbed him.

The crooks, however, are part of a notorious East End gang who know no boundaries when silencing a witness. With Jack’s world crumbling around him, an unnatural desire draws him to Larkin which he must either fight or allow if he is to see justice done and win his reward. When an equally dashing young detective arrives on the scene, Jack’s life becomes even more complicated, and when the criminal gang exacts their revenge, they set him on a life-or-death quest that will forever change his life. Or end it.

Finding a Way is the first of a new series of Victorian mysteries. Following on from the highly successful Clearwater Mysteries and Larkspur Mysteries, the series starts in London in 1892, and involves some of the original Clearwater characters in supporting roles. There is no need to have read the preceding two series, though it would be a shame to miss them.

Still to do

I still have a few pieces of the process to complete before I can announce the book as released, but you can expect it in around 10 days (roughly). I have still to:

  • Finish checking the proofs now it’s back from the proofreader.
  • Receive the full cover from Andjela V.
  • Have the guys at Other World Ink see to the layout, which will include a drawing of one of the main characters, as that’s something I am keen to continue in this series. (I have the illustration already.)
  • Sort the Amazon stuff like ISBN, and upload the files.

A Fall From Grace

Meanwhile, ‘A Fall from Grace’, the second book in the series, is now at 65,000 words and is doing well. This story continues the one begun in book one, because ‘Finding a Way’ resolves only one of the two plots; the action plot, while the emotional, love interest story is ongoing. I envision the series will include a slow-burn romance which will develop over time, and yes, there will be some sexy parts in it, though they won’t be overly graphic in nature.

‘A Fall From Grace’ is a detective story, as the series is a detective series, with a new mystery each time, and one to be solved by my three main characters, a new band of investigators. However, they come to their new jobs thanks to existing characters from the Clearwater world, and, I hope, you will have some nice ‘Ah ah!’ moments as you read both books. I’ll say no more on that and will leave it for you to discover what lies ahead when you start on the series, hopefully in a couple of weeks.

And now, it’s back to the typowriter and my proofing of book one, while book two waits in the wings to be taken up again once I have ‘Finding a Way’ ready to go. Not long now.

Cover Reveal: Finding a Way

Finding a Way is the first book in the new Delamere Files series, and today, you can see the full cover for the first time.

This series begins in June 1892, six months after the Larkspur Mysteries ended. It is set in the Clearwater world of late Victorian England, and some characters from the Clearwater and Larkspur mysteries appear or are mentioned, but they are not the main cast.

If you have read the Clearwater collection, you will know that Delamere House is the property next door to Clearwater House in London. It is where Lady Marshall used to live, and the building is owned by Lord Clearwater. In the early 1890s, it became the headquarters for the Clearwater Detective Agency under James Wright and is also the house where Joe Tanner and Dalston Blaze live. The house appears later in ‘Finding a Way’, and will feature more as the series continues.

However, ‘Finding a Way’ is not about Delamere House, it is about Jack Merrit, a young London cabbie with a heap of challenges who finds himself unwittingly involved in the solving of a crime. Around this central story is a story of self-acceptance, coming out (as we’d call it these days), and a very slow-burn love story that will develop through several of the books to come.

‘Finding a Way’ will be available in August, and I will let you know when it is published. Meanwhile, here is the blurb as it stands now, and below that, the title. Click on the title to see the cover and meet two of the cast.

Finding a Way

The Delamere Files book one

It began with a man sobbing in the night.

Twenty-five-year-old Jack Merrit struggles to make a living as a London cabbie, and when he is robbed by a fare, he can see no future for himself and his beloved younger brother, Will.

Enter Larkin Chase. A dashing writer of social observations and a man in search of love. After learning Jack’s story, Larkin sees the chance for him to earn a twenty-pound reward. All he has to do is identify the pair of crooks that robbed him.

The crooks, however, are at the top of the heap of a notorious East End gang who know no boundaries when it comes to silencing a witness. With Jack’s world crumbling around him, he is drawn to Larkin by an unnatural desire which he must either fight or allow if he is to see justice done and win his reward. When an equally dashing young detective arrives on the scene, Jack’s life becomes even more complicated, and when the criminal gang exact their revenge, he is set on a life-or-death quest that will forever change his life. Or end it.

Cover Reveal

Click the image to open the full front cover.

Opening Lines: WIP 7.01

‘Finding a Way’ (The Delamere Files book one) is nearly there, so I have now switched to Work In Progress seven, although it is not my seventh book, but the seventh since I started the WIP blog.

‘A Fall from Grace’ (The Delamere Files book two) is currently at 51,000 words, around halfway through, and the pace is picking up. This is very much first-draft material, and I am still surrounded by pieces of paper stuck to my desk to remind me of vital clues to explain later and where the story is going.

I saw a post on Facebook the other day where writers were encouraged to put up the first lines of the first three chapters of their current work in progress, and I thought that would be a fun idea for today. I can’t remember what these lines are, so I have opened the chapters to take a look.

What I have for you now are the opening lines of chapters one to three of ‘A Fall from Grace’, and this will come as much as a surprise to me as to you.

Chapter One (Summer 1880)
Jacques Verdier hit the rockery at some time between two-thirty and four-thirty in the morning of the thirty-first of July, eighteen-eighty.

Chapter Two (London, Twelve Years Later, July 1892)
His life two weeks ago: Surrounded by boatyards and barge-builders, chandlers and wharfingers, sails, masts, ropes, cable chains, blocks, cranes, and makers of everything needed for the dockyards and river trades.

Chapter three (Sinford’s School for Boys, Kent. 1875 to 1880)
Sinford’s School no longer exists, but when I was sent there in 1875 at the age of thirteen, it was a rambling place full of terror, noise and prospects.

A few notes: I think there are too many hyphens in the opening of chapter one, so I may change the time to an hour, rather than a half. Chapter two needs to be two chapters because it does two things, and it does them too quickly. It tells us about the MC’s change in fortune, and it introduces the protagonist. That’s fine, but the protagonist needs more time to get to know and trust the detectives he has come to for help before he lets them read his memoirs, which start at chapter three. So, that’s a second draft issue to be sorted out.

‘Finding a Way’

Maybe I should whet your appetite for book one by posting the opening lines of the first three chapters. ‘Finding a Way’ should be out on Kindle, KU and paperback within the next couple of weeks, but meanwhile…

Chapter One June 1892
It began with a man sobbing in the night.

Chapter Two
After some investigation of the cabmen’s shelter, Jack returned to the hansom to announce that Speckle Sam was frying them each a grunting peck, and two mugs of prattle broth were waiting for them on the bench, because the night was so warm, and the hut was so ard, he could barely catch his breath.

Chapter Three
There was money to be made on the way home, but Jack ignored the potential fares as he passed through Borough, and turned down the drunks and those leaving the all-night coffee houses.

As for the rest, you will have to wait and see, but you will be able to see the cover here on the blog on Saturday when I do the full reveal. Join me then, and you will meet my two new main characters for the first time…