What on Earth…?

Yesterday I put a post on my personal and Jackson Marsh Facebook pages – a little quiz that went like this:

Just for fun – and NO Googling, because you either know or you don’t. What on earth has all of the following:

A spine, shoulder, tail, pin, toe, face, edge, heel, point and scales?

The answer is at the bottom of this page, if you click the link, you’ll find an image with all those things labelled, and you might be surprised.

Here are a few more clues:

I came across this information while researching for ‘A Case of Make Believe.’

The thing in question is not that big.

It was used more in the 19th century than it is now.

Not everyone would have one, but if you did have one, you’d know if you didn’t use it properly.

Before I give you the answer, I’d just like to bring you up to date on the currently running Crime Story promo which is still running and will be until the end of the month. If you’re into crime novels, then there are plenty to spark your interest here:

Click for a load of books!

And now, the answer to the quiz – but have one last think before you click the button…

What on earth has all of the following:

A spine, shoulder, tail, pin, toe, face, edge, heel, point and scales?

News and Updates

I was talking last Saturday about ‘A Case of Make Believe’ the working title of Delamere five which I am now working on. The update is that I am now over 22,000 words in and approaching the end of act one. I know how the story will end, I know certain things that will happen along the way, but I’m not yet sure how we’re going to get there. That’s the fun part as I wade through acts two and three before getting to the climax in act four.

Four Act Structure

Most of my stories are constructed this way, and a very rough outline would look like this:

Act one           Ordinary day, a case comes in, everything needed is gathered

                        Emotional story set up

Act two           We’re off into the case and encounter problems and friends

                        Emotional story develops

Act three         After a midway twist, the story picks up a little pace

                        As does the emotional through line (if it’s important)

Act four          We’ve hit a crisis which leads to a climax and denouement

                        Reflected by the emotional story tie up or make up etc.

That is a very, very basic outline of a classic four-act structure, and you will see it in about 75% of all films (I don’t know the real number, but it’s a lot). There are other structures, but this is the one I favour. The hard part is filling in acts two and three without it reading as though they are just filling. That’s why there’s usually an emotional line too. In ‘Where There’s a Will’ it was the relationship between Marisco and Newt, in ‘Finding a Way’ it’s Jack accepting he’s gay and starting to fall for Larkin. And so on.

Other Things

While I am beavering away on the typowriter, I am also promoting the books, and that’s what I have for you here. The 19th Century Historical Fiction promo has ended, and my readers contributed 40 or so hits to the page, so we may well have helped 40 books gain more publicity. There are three still running though, and they are on until the end of the month. I know I’ve mentioned them before, but that’s my part of the bargain. I participate with other authors, and we share each other’s work via these promo pages. As usual, they cost nothing to browse, and in some cases, all books are on KU while all are on Amazon.

Click the Pics

If you’re in the mood for some steamy MM romance you could try All The Feels:

If you want more crime and gritty stories from all eras, try All Crime July:

If you fancy something spooky and fantastic, then Riveting Reads is for you:

A Case of Make Believe

I’ve started again on the Delamere Files book five, ‘A Case of Make Believe.’ Now, things are running much more smoothly. Before, I had Jack heading off to Paris and being out of the picture, leaving Will to work alone, and that simply was not working. The two of them need to be together for the tension and humour to work, so now, Jimmy’s off to Paris leaving Jack in charge, and on the day a new case comes in too.

It’s a case of a disappearance gone wrong. A magician performing at the Egyptian Hall, made his young assistant disappear, but unfortunately, the boy never came back. Where he went, and how and why he vanished becomes the mystery Jack and Will must solve. The boy’s older brother comes to them from the Cheap Street Mission (because he is/was a rent boy and is reforming), and the case may well involve some underground work at a brothel, on the Whitechapel streets, and in among the mesmerists and magicians of the Egyptian Hall. I say ‘may well involve’ because I’m not yet clear exactly where the investigation will take them. I know it has already taken me on a journey into the world of Maskelyne & Cooke at the Egyptian hall, Piccadilly, in 1893 – or as close to that date as I can find material. For example, here is the inside of a programme from 1872.

And here’s a poster (not sure of the date).

The Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London, was an exhibition hall built in the ancient Egyptian style in 1812, to the designs of Peter Frederick Robinson. The Hall was a considerable success, with exhibitions of artwork and of Napoleonic era relics. The hall was later used for popular entertainments and lectures, and developed an association with magic and spiritualism, becoming known as “England’s Home of Mystery.” In 1905, the building was demolished to make way for flats and offices. [Wiki]

I have found a book by George A. Jenness called ‘Maskelyne & Cooke’ which is, as far as I can see, the only book solely about them and the hall, and contains as much information as I could hope to find, down to the colour of the curtains. As for the stage tricks and the magic, I managed to find another well-out-of-print book titled, ‘Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, Including Trick Photography.’ Although this was published in 1897 (my story is set in 1893), the way the illusions were done would have been the same. I now know how they made people vanish, managed to decapitate people without cutting off their heads, and how fairies appeared on stage – among many other things.

In ‘A Case of Make Believe’ the magic trick that goes wrong is the ‘trunk trick’ where someone is locked in a trunk by the audience, and after a moment, the trunk is opened to reveal it empty. The assistant is then supposed to come back in a reversal of the trick which is managed by way of a… Ah ha! That’s a secret, for now, at least.

I am also using newspapers of the day so I can be as accurate as possible. In one early chapter, Will tuts about the weather report in the newspaper, not at the weather, which was bitter and frosty, but at the way the report was written. I’ve set the opening of the story proper (after the ‘prelude’) on January 10th 1893, which is a date that may ring bells with readers who have started at ‘Deviant Desire’ and worked their way forward. (January 10th is a special day for one of the main characters.)

Here’s the weather over New Year 1893.

And here’s where the Egyptian Hall used to stand. I took this off Google Earth yesterday. Good to see it’s still called Egyptian House. It’s just about opposite the Burlington Arcade if you want to take a look.

So, background work continues as I bang out draft one and delve into the mysterious world of illusions and all things magical. Which is a good way of introducing you to another promo:

Riveting Reads is a collection of mysteries, weirdness, horror, magical and all things spooky and dark, and there are many new titles and authors for you to discover there, with all books being in Kindle Unlimited and for sale. Click the banner to see the full collection.

Starting Again

This week’s Work In Progress blog update.

Bobby, a Life Worth Living, is doing well, and I have had some great feedback already. It’s wonderful to hear that his story resonates with so many people, and they have volunteered their own snippets of older relations’ stories. I am waiting for some leads so I can try and copy some of our interviews onto the PC and from there, to this website, so readers can hear Bobby talking about his past. That’s a project for the future, and I’ll let you know if I am successful.

Where There’s a Will is doing brilliantly in the charts, and has already gained some four- and five-star ratings. Good old Will!

A Case of Make Believe

Well now, this is the working title of Delamere book five, and Make Believe is written that way for a reason. The idea is to have someone be made to believe something and it’s all to do with magic acts and the Victorian passion for macabre shows, the famous decapitation tricks of the Egyptian Hall, and the weird and wonderful of Maskelyne and Cooke’s entertainments.

But not everything is going to plan, so the title may change, although the subject of this mystery won’t. I have already changed the first 14,000 words. Let me explain…

I began on the story, setting it in January 1893. On James Wright’s 30th birthday, actually, January 10th. By then, Delamere House has a housekeeper and a new detective. I started the story from Will’s point of view, and immediately had Jack and Jimmy setting off for Paris to solve an urgent case at the Paris Opera House.

This was to set things up for book six, which may well have something to do with a phantom at the Opera House (left), and thus, become the inspiration for the novel by Gaston Leroux, which he will publish in serial form, starting in 1909… but that’s another story.

Back at Delamere, we were introduced to the new housekeeper, and the new detective, and then a new case arrived at the end of chapter one, and in chapters two and three, Will said goodbye to Jack, and was left in charge of the agency and… It didn’t work. As soon as Jack and Will were separated, the thing fell flat. Add to that, too many new faces and too much domestic detail, and I knew I was off to a false start. So, I have set those first 14,000 words aside. (There’s a good idea in there for a short story, and I might well do another ‘1892’ for Christmas, maybe ‘1891’, I’ll see.)

Now, I have started again with the same villain in mind, and the same background, but I’m coming at it from a different angle. The story now opens with a piece by Larkin Chase, and he’s describing a theatrical event that, later in 1897, would become Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, specialising in naturalistic horror shows. My version, in 1893, is a forerunner, if you like, and it’s a bit of make-believe itself because I am sure the mystery shows of the time didn’t go as far as Grand Guignol, but like the Phantom of the Opera, the Delamere case might well be the inspiration for creatives of the future.

So, that’s where we are.

This week’s promo to click on and check out for more reading, is all about MM Romance novels. This is running all month, the books are all available through Amazon, and there are plenty of your favourite niches and tropes included. Have a click and enjoy your reading!

Bobby, A Life Worth Living

This is a change for me. It’s a biography of my godfather who lived an extraordinary life. If you are interested in the gay history of Britain, or simply history, then this true account, as told by him and edited by me, will fascinate you.

Born in Tooting, South London in 1919, Bobby left home at 14 to cross the Thames and make a life for himself. On more or less his first day, he found that a 14-year-old boy could make money from men in the bushes in Hyde Park. A few years as an independent rent boy followed, a time during which he met many well-known people (some of whom are mentioned). After that, he enlisted in the Royal Navy, became a gunner, and saw active service in the Med and Pacific while making sure his fellow crewmen never went without sex. After the war, he finally settled into a post at the Hyde Park Hotel where he became head housekeeper and met even more well-known people.

Winston Churchill, Shirley Bassey, the Dalai Lama, the Duke of Edinburgh, Quentin Crisp, Angus McBean, David Bowie, Frank Vosper… The list of names whose path Bobby crossed or walked along is seemingly endless, so much so, that I was unable to include all of his stories, and there were some names he refused to put in print. He was also involved in the Wolfenden Report (that eventually led to the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK), he reminisces about Lady Malcom’s Drag Balls at the Albert Hall and other drag and theatre events and people.

Click the cover pic for the Kindle and KU versions and the full cover image for the print version.

Robert Charles Thompson was many things in his life. Among them, he was a teenage sex worker, a gunner in the Royal Navy, and head housekeeper at a prestigious London hotel. He was also gay, and his story gives us a fresh insight into a well-trodden path of British social history.

Available from Amazon US UK DE FR CA AU and all around the world.


Don’t forget there are still four great promos running, and here’s the 19th-century historical fiction one. Scroll down to last week’s post to see them all.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/19thcenturypromo/8ug3l2bqle

A Second Book in a Month

Following hot on the heels of ‘Where There’s a Will’, I have another book almost ready to release, and that will be the second within four weeks (assuming it doesn’t get held up like last time).

However, I have been working on this one off and on for 20 years. It’s only been in the last couple of months, since losing two paid jobs and finding myself with loads of time but no money, that I’ve finally finished the editing and fact checking.

Here’s the blurb and front cover.

“Variety is the spice of life, they say, but to me, variety was the life of my vice.”

Robert Charles Thompson was many things in his life. Among them he was a teenage sex worker, a gunner in the Royal Navy, and head housekeeper at a prestigious London hotel. He was also gay, and his story gives us a fresh insight into a well-trodden path of British social history.

This is the biography of one gay man, born in 1919 in Tooting, South London. There are, no doubt, many others, but maybe not many led such a diverse life. Bob’s path crossed with those of Hollywood actors, prime ministers, and royalty, but he came from the underclass of the homeless, drag queens, and illegal lovers.

Caught up in pivotal moments of the gay 20th century, this previously unknown gay man’s richly fascinating career has previously slipped under the radar but is now getting the limelight it deserves.

The files are with the guys who do the layout, and as soon as they are back and checked, I’ll send them up to be published, and then, I’ll tell you more about the story behind the book and what’s in it.

Meanwhile…

As you may have seen from the monthly newsletter, I have four promos running this month. Here, again, are the details. Click the links to see loads of new titles and authors with most books being in KU and some being on audio.

Happy reading!


Searching for your next MM romance? There are 49 titles to check out at this BookFunnel promo.

All the MM Feels

49 titles. Running all month. Includes The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge


All Crime Past, Present and Future

KU and Audio. 44 books. All month. Includes Deviant Desire – Guardians of the Poor – Finding a Way


Riveting Reads PROMO

Horror, Mystery & Suspense / Crime, and Mystery & Suspense / Thriller

All on Kindle Unlimited and/or $0.99. 68 books including box sets. Promo running all month. Includes Deviant Desire – Guardians of the Poor – Finding a way


Journey Through the Past: 19th Century Historical Fiction PROMO!

Historical Fiction, General Fiction / Historical Fiction, and Mystery & Suspense / Historical Mystery

18 books. Running July 1st to 20th. Includes Deviant Desire – Finding a Way


What’s Going On?

Today’s blog post is a general chat about what’s going on, what’s coming up, and what’s new. I have had family staying for the last couple of weeks, so I’ve not been able to get much done, but I have been working in the background and now I have two projects on the go. Here are a few notes.

Where There’s a Will (The Delamere Files book four)

After being held up in a most unusual queue at Amazon for six days, Will has launched himself into the world. This is the first book where Will Merrit is the central character, rather than his older and more cumbersome brother, Jack. Both brothers are called to an isolated castle to attend the reading of a will, and the reason why becomes clear only when the will is read.

Although it has only been on sale for a couple of days, Where There’s a Will has already overtaken Deviant Desire and Finding a Way for the number of sales this month. Interestingly, it has sold more paperbacks than Kindle versions, which is nice to see because it means the book will be on display on several bookshelves around the world.

What’s the Next Delamere File?

I have been searching for the next title and story, and I now have some possibles. I am thinking of setting the next one in the world of magic, magicians, Mr Maskelyne and Cooke’s entertainment at the Egyptian Rooms, or something similar. I have a draft title, ‘A Case of Make Believe’ but that’s tentative. I do, though, have a challenge set by a friend who said he would buy five copies if I included a character by a certain name – and that’s something I intend to do, no matter what the story ends up being. ‘Cutthroat Fanny’, or ‘Fanny Razor’, is the madam at a Clerkenwell molly house (boy brothel), and she’s an arch criminal, of course. She may well be the sister of Violet Flay from the earlier books.

I am about to start on this story, but first…

Bobby – A Life Worth Living

I have been working on this for several years off and on – mainly off, actually, for one reason or another. Now, though, I am at the stage where Andjela is thinking up a cover, and I am on my final proofing before sending the text off to the boys to be formatted. Expect yet another Jackson Marsh in a few weeks’ time.

This though, is not a novel, but the true story of my godfather.

Born in Gambole Road, Tooting in 1919, Uncle Bob was my godfather. Lovely, dear, but why write his biography? Mainly, because many years ago, he asked me to. He had a story he wanted the world to hear. Here’s the opening:

Robert Charles Thompson was many things in his life, among them he was a son, a schoolboy, a teenage sex worker, a gunner in the Royal Navy, a mushroom farmer, a landlord, and head housekeeper at a prestigious London hotel. He was also my godfather and very, very gay.

Uncle Bob’s story begins in Tooting, London, in 1919 and ends in Peacehaven, East Sussex, in 2007. He wanted the book to be called, ‘Bobby, a Life Worth Living,’ because he always said that was what he had had. It might easily have been called ‘The gay story of 20th century Britain’, as you will see.

The hotel in question is the Hyde Park Hotel, London, where he met many famous people including David Bowie, Winston Churchill and the Dali Lama.

I’m hoping Bobby will be out before the end of the month.

Promotions

As you may know, I have been involved a few promotions this year, and they are proving very useful for gathering new readers. Also, I hope, they have been useful to other authors too, because where I publicise my books as being in them, so everyone else involved does the same, and we do a joint group promo to help each other out. You can find out more about these via my newsletter (there will be one early next week), here, and on my Facebook page and private group. Coming up in July, we have a promo with lots of historical fiction, two others that revolve around crime stories past and present, and one that’s all about pure MM romance (The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge will be in that one.)

Watch these spaces for more details.

And Finally

This weekend will be taken up by finishing ‘Bobby’ and plotting ‘A Case of Make Believe’ or whatever it will be called. On Monday, work will begin on the next Delamere, and I have an idea that we may see a couple of Larkspur Academy men make guest appearances…

Hundreds of New Titles

‘Where There’s a Will’ is still in the publishing queue at Amazon. This is unusual, but it does happen, and we must be patient. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of other titles and new authors for you to explore at the following promo page links. If you want to know more about these promos (which don’t cost you anything to view but which offer great opportunities for new works at low prices), sign up for my newsletter for updates.

The following expire on Sunday, so click now before it’s too late.

Kindle Unlimited Historical Fiction
All books here are on Kindle Unlimited.

Find Your Next LGBTQIA+ Read
This is a Pride Month promotion with a massive variety of genres, niches, tropes and authors.

Mayhem & Motives
Mystery, thriller and suspense reads.

Academy Series Starters
Mysteries, fantasy, lots of unreal stuff and then, ‘Guardians of the Poor’ — historical, academy setting series starter which rather stands out from the other covers (and has attracted a new readership thanks to this promo).

I have two more to tell you about next week. The above end at the end of this month, though the books will still be available of course, just not the easy-reference promo page. Next month I am in two promos (so far), and there will be a newsletter about this, plus blog posts. Meanwhile, my guests leave on Friday, so on Saturday, I shall be returning to ‘Bobby’ which I hope to have published during July – as long as the queue has died down and ‘Where There’s a Will’ has been released. That book is available in paperback, but not yet on Kindle. Click for more info:

Where There’s a Wait

Today, I was hoping to tell you that ‘Where There’s a Will’ was available on Kindle, but for some reason, it’s taking a long time to show up. Its official status is ‘Publishing’, which means it’s passed all the stages and is simply waiting to go live. This usually happens within three hours, but so far, it’s taken two days. They say in the small print that it can take up to ten days, which seems incredibly slow for a computerised, automated process.

Meanwhile, the print version is available for those who, like me, prefer to buy paperbacks, and here’s the link:

Where there’s a Will

Will and Jack Merrit are set a simple task: Journey to an island in the Bristol Channel to attend the reading of a will. Why? No-one knows.

Charles Marisco can guess what’s in his father’s will. Everything will go to his twin brother, Simon, because he was born first. However, Charles has other things on his mind, namely, his best friend, Barrett Newton, a man he would like to know more intimately.

A storm-lashed castle, a remote island, and a cast of eccentric characters set the stage for Will and Jack Merrit’s most baffling case yet—one that grows deadlier as the body count rises.

This is the fourth book in the Delamere Files series.

The books should be read in order.

I have family visiting right now, so I shan’t be starting on the next story until next weekend, when I will get straight back to it. I have several ideas, some situations I’d like to explore, some historical occasions from 1893 I’d like to look at further, and I have several ideas. So, I need to decide which one I am going to run with and focus on that. While I’m doing that, I will also be finishing ‘Bobby – a Life Worth Living’, the story of my late godfather which is also a kind of walk through 20th century gay Britain, or one gay man’s life from 1919 to 2007, and I can tell you it is a remarkable true story. I did most of the work on this book several years ago and then I set it aside as I wasn’t happy with my style. Now, after I’ve matured a little as a writer, I am able to do the story justice. I’ve added some deeper research I was unable to do 20 years ago, and have knocked the MS into a reasonable shape. As soon as I can afford it, I will commission Andjela to do me a cover, get the OWI guys to do the layout, and it’ll be ready to go. Or will be ready to sit in the Amazon ‘publishing’ queue for a few days…

For now, though, it’s back to my enforced holiday; a trip out for lunch, my piano student this afternoon, and a friend’s terrace for the evening. It’s 36° outside most of the time, so we’re going slowly and drinking loads of water. Here are some views to see you through the weekend.

A Simple Update

Hello! Today’s work-in-progress update will be a simple one. ‘Where There’s a Will’ should be ready for you in a few days. As I write this (yesterday) the guys have it and are doing the internal layout. That usually takes me a day or two to check and approve, and I hope to have it back this week. Andjela is working on the full cover, but I can release the Kindle as soon as I approve the internals. So, watch this space for this:

Click the cover, and you will find the existing Delamere Files series page.

As for the other work in progress, ‘Bobby’, I am about to start on the proofs of that and the final checking process. I’m not able to release this one until July due to funds, but I’ll commission a cover in the next two or three weeks, and keep you informed about progress. It’s not a novel, it’s a true account of my gay godfather’s life as told by him and edited by me, spanning the years 1919 to 2007, and it makes for incredible reading.

More about that soon. Meanwhile, it’s back to editing for me and, I hope, back to reading for you.