Work in Progress: 1892

The latest update is a brief one: I am now working through the last draft to check the proofs, and Andjela has sent me the full cover. Except the link to the file transfer site got lost in my spam folder and now I’ve found the email, it comes without the link, so I am waiting for another. It’ll take me a while to check through the MS and then have the pages set out ready for publication, but you’ll definitely be able to get hold of this feel-good Christmas collection well before Christmas Day.

If you are a member of my private Facebook group, Jackson’s Deviant Desires, you will be able to get a free copy, and I will let you know how in the group pages when the time comes.

Meanwhile, I must now get back to ‘Follow the Van,’ the third Delamere Files instalment. I have put it off for a while to work on ‘1892’ and some other (paid!) writing work I had in. In this case, it was a set of stories for two German magazines. They get translated into German but also appear in the magazines in English. These are twink adults-only magazines published in Germany and on sale throughout Europe. I won’t provide links, but if you want to search them out, one is called PornUp and the other is called DreamBoys. Both are top-shelf magazines, so watch how you investigate!

That aside, I aim to be back following the van by the end of this week when 1892 will be ready for laying out, and I can forget those stories and concentrate on where I was.

Meanwhile, don’t forget the Clearwater Calendar will be on sale only until the end of the year, and don’t forget to join my private FB group so you can claim a free copy of 1892 as soon as it is ready.

1892: Cover Reveal

The other day, I dropped off the blurb for the new book, and in the meantime, I had a friend read the MS, because she’s a writer of short stories, whereas, I usually prefer to write novels. ‘1892, The Clearwater Tales, Volume One,’ is my first foray into short stories apart from those I have written for adult sites and magazines. As they tend to be 20% story and 80% nookie, I don’t really count them. I don’t talk about them much, other than to say, I do them as a means to a financial end, and would much rather write my historical mysteries and some romance/adventure novels.

Anyway, my friend used to work as a reader for a large London publishing house. One of those poor souls who have to deal with manuscripts from hopeful authors looking for publication. She has told me about the job, and what it entailed, and it’s not all about reading a few chapters and saying yes or no, she also worked in editing and entertaining potential authors, and she did the job for long enough to know good writing from bad. So, I was cheered to receive her thoughts on ‘1892.’ Her message included this:

Have read the short stories. A nice warm Christmas read, particularly for your loyal readers but you have managed to make it perfectly understandable for anyone new. It’s a lovely picture of that luxurious but cosy first-class carriage puffing down to snowy Cornwall with all mod cons and lashings of food.

That was good to read from a professional reader, and she summed up the overarching story of the book perfectly. Seven characters on a train heading for Cornwall for Christmas Eve. Within that are six stories, five told by the characters you see on the cover, and the other being the wrap-around story from the point of view of the stranger who is travelling with them.

To view the cover, click on the picture below and it should open separately. You will see who the cast is. From left to right you have: Joe Tanner, the antiquarian, Mrs Norwood, the housekeeper (here modelled by my friend, Jenine), Professor Fleet (as depicted by my husband, Neil), Andrej (Fecker), the baron, and Will Merrit, the detective.

I’ll have more news about the release and how you can get a free e-copy in a future post and on my Facebook page and group. The freebie is for group members only, so check out and join Jackson’s Deviant Desires to know when and how you can have a free e-copy. Meanwhile, here’s the full cover. Click the pic.

Work in Progress: 1892

Again, it has been a quiet week with not much to report other than this:

‘1892’ is going off to be proofread later this week, and I am waiting for the full cover from Andjela, but that should be with me soon too. Then, I will have one last read and contact the layout guys about setting out the pages.

1892 will be free for a limited time to members of my Facebook group, Jackson’s Deviant Desires. Soi, if you are not a member of that group yet, now’s the time to join. Any members of the group will be able to get a free digital copy, as long as it’s within the advertised time frame (I’ll let you know nearer that time), and after that, it will be on sale in the usual way.

I’ll release the full cover before long, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you don’t have too long to wait.

Here’s the blurb for ‘1892’ to keep you hanging on the edge of your (railway carriage) seats.


The Clearwater Tales

Volume One

Five characters from the Clearwater, Larkspur and Delamere Mysteries find themselves taking the train to Cornwall for the 1892 Larkspur Hall Christmas Eve ball. To pass the time, they each tell a story from their past.

Sitting in their carriage is a stranger who listens to their stories of detection, mystery and prophesy, and recognises some of the people involved. As they near their destination, the stranger realises he is more involved with his fellow passengers than they know, but who is he? Where is he going, and why?

(1892 can be read as a short, standalone novella, and there’s no need to have read the Clearwater, Larkspur or Delamere series to enjoy the story. However, you might gain more from reading 1892 if you already know the characters and their histories.)

1892, Follow the Van, and an Update

Hi folks.

I usually do a work-in-progress update on a Wednesday, but today, I thought I would update you on the current WIPS and other matters. Let’s start but going back to the future, and 1892.


This will be my next release. A set of short stories that currently has this draft blurb:

Five characters from the Clearwater, Larkspur and Delamere Mysteries find themselves taking the train to Cornwall for the 1892 Larkspur Hall Christmas Eve ball. To pass the time, they each tell a story from their past.

Sitting in their carriage is a stranger who listens to their stories of detection, mystery and prophesy, and recognises some of the people involved. As they near their destination, the stranger realises he is more involved with his fellow passengers than they know, but who is he? Where is he going, and why?

Here’s a snippet of the excellent cover as designed, as always, but the marvellous Andjela V.

You can just see the top of the head of the five characters, so you may be able to guess who appears in this collection if you don’t already know. There are two characters from Clearwater, two from Larkspur and one from Delamere, plus two other characters. One is the railway steward who caters for his passengers in the private-hire saloon, and the other is the mystery man who appears in one book attached to the Clearwater series and is mentioned a couple of times in others, but he’s from a long way back, so hopefully, you’ve forgotten about him and will get a nice surprise at the end of the book when his story becomes the sixth. Actually, his story is the whole journey, but… Well, you’ll see in time.

Follow the Van

Meanwhile, I am beavering away in the same year but on a different book, the Delamere Files Book Three, ‘Follow the Van.’ I’ve been doing some research into Victorian music halls and theatre for this one, and one day, I’ll do a blog post about that research. I’ve almost finished reading about the Gaiety Theatre (now gone), and am about to start on another which, although a novel, is written by a historian, and it’s about the music hall artist, Dan Leno (1860 to 1904), real name George Wild Galvin. That’ll be interesting background.

Symi, Greece

Meanwhile, here in the real world, we’re approaching the winter months, but so far, have been very lucky with the weather and temperature. The island is quieter now there are very few tourists about, and many businesses have closed for the winter, but enough remain open for us locals to carry on regardless. We’re now discussing bringing the duvet out of summer hibernation, and dusting off the heaters, though I’d rather keep them unplugged for as long as possible. Fuel costs and all that. (We don’t have central heating or gas, so everything is electric.)

View from the balcony on Thursday.

In a week or so, Neil’s off to visit his brother in Vienna, leaving me home alone with two books to work on plus my daily freelance work, and we’re both off to Athens for New Year with our best friend and our godsons. There will no doubt be more about that adventure when we get back, and in the meantime, if you’re interested to read more about where we are, and what we do here all year round, you can check out my five-day-a-week blog, Symi Dream. Just click that link and you’ll be in my madcap, sometimes lively, sometimes rather mundane, life here on a small Greek island.

And now… Back to the future (publications) and more work on Follow the Van. Everyone sing along: My old man said follow the van, and don’t dilly dally on the way…

Works in Progress X 2

This week’s update concerns two works in progress.


It’s rather a dramatic title for a short collection of short stories, but I rather like it. I’m mad about the cover Andjela has done, and I’ll be revealing that in a few days. Meanwhile, Neil and Jenine have been beta reading and checking over the MS, and the feedback so far is positive. Once they’ve finished, I’ll get back to a final draft, which means we’re on target of a release before Christmas as promised, with members of my private Facebook group being able to receive a free digital copy before it goes on sale.

Follow the Van

While 1892 is, for me, on pause, I’ve returned to the third of the Delamere novels, ‘Follow the Van.’ This story sees the continuation of Jack and Will Merrit’s change in fortune, and when the story starts, they are happily ensconced in their new home and jobs as private investigators.

This book takes the world of the music halls as its backdrop and gives me a chance to expand Jack and Will’s past a little more by having them learn some home truths about their father. You might remember that Samson Merrit died a couple of years before ‘Finding a Way’ started. Samson was a music hall artist who died on stage while performing with Marie Lloyd. He is invented, but I am reading about characters of the music halls (later termed variety here and in the USA) and the world of the London theatre at the turn of the century. Fascinating for someone like me who’s always been interested in the theatre.

Follow the Van is still in its early days, but I am on chapter seven, first draft, and have brought in Ben Baxter the sex-mad, ex-renter, stable boy and groom, to help jolly the story along, and give Jack another diversion. My planned writing today includes getting ‘Bax’ from Knightsbridge to a compromising position in a Limehouse stable. Not sure how I’m going to do that, but it’s going to be fun working it out.

I’m back on Saturday with more news and chat. Don’t forget to scroll down and check out ‘On Wings of Song’ by Anne Barwell, as featured last week, and, if you’ve not yet found them, you can start the new Delamere Files series right here. (Click the pic.)

On Wings of Song

Today, I’m giving the blog over to a fellow author of historical gay romance, Anne Barwell, and her novel, ‘On Wings of Song.’ The book is currently on sale for $2.99 in Kindle and has been picking up some great reviews. I’ll be here on Wednesday with news about ‘1892’, the Clearwater Tales Volume One, and possibly even a cover. Meanwhile here’s some more info about ‘On Wings of Song’ and all the links you need.

On Wings of Song

“A beautifully written historical romance.”

“A sweet, and angsty, slow burn romance.”

A chance meeting they never forgot.

Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.

The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.

Author’s note: This story was originally released by another publisher. This edition has some added content, and uses UK spelling to reflect its setting.

Amazon US:
Amazon UK:
Universal Link:

Work in Progress: 1892

That’s the title of the anthology of short stories I am working on, and getting ready for Christmas – or before. I don’t mean ‘Work in Progress’ is the title, but ‘1892’, because that is the year in which the story takes place. Within it, are five short stories as told by five characters from the Clearwater world.

I have one more tale yet to write and then a lot of editing and correcting, making it better and tidying up. With that done, I can return to ‘Follow the Van’, the third Delamare files story. My aim is to have the last short story of ‘1892’ drafted this morning, or at least half of it. It’s all in my head, it just needs extracting, typing, and making better.

May 1892

‘1892’ will be available to buy before Christmas, but I will also be giving it away in ePub or PDF form to anyone who is in my private Facebook group ‘Jacksons Deviant Desires.’ You can click over to that and join if you’re not already in the group.

And don’t forget, the Clearwater calendar is on sale, but only for another few weeks. Click the pic to get the link.

What’s in a Name? How to Find the Perfect Book Title.

I’m struggling… Well, I’m not struggling, I’m just undecided what to call my Clearwater short story collection that I am planning to bring out before Christmas. I’ve contacted Andjela with ideas about the cover, and she has begun work on the image. I was able to give her my visual ideas, and a subtitle, but not the actual title, and she’ll need it soon. So far, I have:


The Clearwater Tales Volume One

Jackson Marsh

Obviously, we need more than that, so I thought it was time I reminded myself of what makes a good title for a book, and for that purpose, I turned to the New York Book Editor’s checklist of tips for creating a good book title.

Remember, your book title is one of the most important marketing tools and can draw in a reader or send them away. Therefore, a good book title needs to have key elements. One of my favourite titles is ‘Deviant Desire’, so I’ve taken the NYBE’s list of recommendations and compared them to that book, the first in the Clearwater Mysteries series. These notes are my observations of my own work, and I might be overblowing my own trumpet, but here goes…

Attention grabbing.

Deviant is a ‘power word’ as they call attention-grabbing words. Mind you, Desire is also pretty provocative because it suggests sex, while Deviant suggests naughty or illicit sex, so ears are already pricking up.

Easy to understand
It’s only two words, and sums up what might have been a book title in the days the story is set (1888). ‘Men with Unnatural Desires who are Considered Deviants Battle with another Deviant Intent on Killing Them.’ (Victorian writers were known for being over-wordy, and that extended to titles in some cases.)

Easy to remember
I suggest Deviant Desire is easier to remember than ‘Men with Unnatural Desires who…’ It’s also alliterative, a trick which aids memory.

I always run a check through Amazon and Google to see if my book title already exists. Sometimes it does, but the other book is completely off my topic, even so, I might think about changing it. Sometimes, my title is also the name of a music album or something else, but as long as I am not aping the brand or product, it’s acceptable.

For the current work in progress, I wanted to call the book, ‘My Old Man,’ because the story concerns the Victorian music halls and that is a famous line from a famous music-hall song which just happens to relate to much of the story. However, it’s also the title of an autobiography by the British former Prime Miniter, John Major, so I changed my title to ‘Follow the Van.’ That’s from the same song, ‘My old man said follow the van…’ and it’s also appropriate to the story. Phew!

Fits genre

Deviant Desire fits the genre of MM romance with a little light steam (Desire), and Victorian mystery (Deviant). My problem has always been staying in one niche, which is why I write mashups. Actually, I did it because they are more novel (get it?) and more original than traditional MM romances. ‘My Favourite Boy,’ ‘Hid Daddy’s Best Friend’, and ‘College Jock After-Game Love-In’ might be suitable for trad MM romance; Deviant Desire, though, does not suggest a budding romance between a shy teenager and the high school gym coach. I hope.

More appropriate to my story, the word ‘Deviant’ was one used in the past to describe gay men and gay sex. Homosexuals were deviants, and that theme continues in the following books which also use words for gay men in their titles. ‘Twisted’ Tracks, ‘Unspeakable’ Acts. (The phrase was often used in newspapers when reporting court cases of gross indecency.) ‘Fallen’ Splendour, as the word Fallen referred to prostitutes.


Yes, well, it’s only two words. Deviant Desire. Yet they refer to the (then) deviant behaviour of one man loving another, as well as the villain’s deviancy in murdering people, and the couple’s desire to love, plus the villain’s desire to kill.

Series and sequels

As mentioned, I used similar word combinations in the following three books, all of which have an adjective followed by a noun. Twisted Tracks, Unspeakable Acts, Fallen Splendour. I was going to end things there, but (luckily) carried on, and the titles then changed.

When it came to the second series, The Larkspur Mysteries, I was more aware of my titling and went for similar wordplay combinations.

Guardians of the Poor. That’s what those who ran the workhouses were called, and it is what the two main characters are doing; they are paupers guarding the welfare of themselves and other paupers.
Keepers of the Past. The ‘keepers’ are antiquarians (archaeologists), and that is what Joe is becoming, while the villain is keeping to the rites and killings of his tradition’s past.

Agents of the Truth. This refers to the investigators, archaeologists (who uncover the truth), and those who deliver the facts to solve a case.

I could go on, and I usually do, but I think the point is made.

Hopefully, the words Deviant and Desire work together to provoke a sense of illegality mixed with longing.

The original cover for Deviant Desire. Note the original title.


This short post wasn’t intended as a way for me to say how perfect my titles are, because like all things in writing, a title can always be improved; at least until you get to the point where fiddling any longer will ruin it.

Just to prove I’ve not always been good at titles, the original title for Deviant Desire was going to be Deviant Lamplight. Say what? What does the lamp light do to make it deviant? Creep unseen from its carriage-lantern casing, and, entwined with the mist of East London, find its way into people’s homes and steal their candles?

Now there’s an idea for a fantasy novel…

For more chat about book titles, try my two previous posts:

What’s in a Title?

Making Your Book Titles Count