On a Deadline for a Title

The work-in-progress news this week is that ‘A Fall from Grace’ is finally out of my system and complete. Almost. I will be sending it away to be proofread at the end of the week, the author’s notes are done, and so is the draft blurb. The cover is in process with Andjela, and all I am doing now is popping back to the full MS to correct anything that pops into my mind at three in the morning. As the days pass, these alterations become less frequent.

One thing remains outstanding, however, and that is the very last line, after where it says, The story continues in book three…’

The title? I have lots of ideas and yet no idea, and I want it there before I publish. I know in what part of Victorian London the story will be set, what the start of the mystery is, the emotional complications that will ensue, and roughly where we will end up, but what I don’t have is a title I can put at the end of book two to draw readers towards book three.

Something to do with Musical Halls, and work in the theatres, missing links of a family history chain, temptations, drama, love…

Hey ho! I have a few titles that might inspire future Delamere stories, titles including Where There’s a Will, and I have a preliminary title for book three, You Can’t Trust These Specials because it’s a quote from a music hall song (Don’t Dilly Dally on the Way), but the story I have I mind doesn’t concern policemen or the ‘old time specials’ of the lyrics.

Leave it with me, set your alarm clocks for mid-October and prepare to look out for the Delamere Files book two, ‘A Fall from Grace’ in a few weeks’ time.

Background inspiration for ‘A Fall from Grace.’

Editing Continues

Hi. Just a short note today as I suddenly have a lot of work on, including editing a short story for a magazine, three hours of article writing, and a website review, plus the continued editing of ‘A Fall from Grace.’

Neil has started the beta read for me and already raised an issue that I had nagging at the back of my mind. It’s about the first four chapters of the book which include a lot of necessary backstory to the case to be investigated. I thought perhaps I’d put all of this is in too much detail, but, actually, I haven’t. The detail is fine, and the backstory makes for an interesting read on its own. What I have done, however, is put it in the wrong order, logically speaking. So, my job yesterday, and today, is to reorder the chapters. Easy? Not exactly.

It’s not a case of swapping chapter two for three etc. The info, dialogue and narration need to be chopped about and altered because of the new order of the story. To do that, I have all four chapters open, I copy a section I want from Chapt 3 and copy it to the clipboard, change the font colour of the original to red, so I know it’s been moved. Then, I paste it, in black, in Chpt 2, say, and take what I want from Chpt 2, highlight it, put it in red, and paste it in Chpt 1 in black. And so on, and so on. When all this alchemy is done, I then take out the red, read through, adjust the text, or simply rewrit the chapter as ‘they’ say it’s best not to fiddle with written text but simply to rewrite it, as you get better results. I do both. If it’s a short edit, i.e. a line or two, I’ll do it within the existing chapter. If it’s a case of telling the story in a different way, I’ll rewrite the whole thing.

So, the work is progressing, and once the beginning is sorted out, I’ll plough on through with the rest. We’re probably looking at October for a release date now, rather than the last few days of September, but tbh, that was probably always going to be the case.

Meanwhile, I found this photo of a young chap online and to me, it looked a little like the character Will Merrit (except his tie would be straighter). What do you think? (Just realised I posted this pic before. Well, I am in rather a hurry this morning…)

A Fall from Grace: Update

Hello, and welcome to your update on ‘A Fall from Grace’, the Delamere Files book two.

The first draft is finished! I’ve been through the story and transferred it from my head to my typowriter, but I am still surrounded by notes stuck to my writing station, and my notebook overfloweth with more.

Now, I begin the task of editing the story before going back to edit the text. There are many fine details in this story which, although the reader doesn’t need to remember them, need to add up and tie in for the overall picture to accurately emerge. Not only am I developing three characters I only created in the last novel, and developing some of those we met in previous series, but I am also introducing a couple of new ones, for the purpose of this story alone. Each character must be themselves, and that’s easy to do with my quirky, eccentric folk, but not so easy with a protagonist and antagonist neither of whom are onstage for long.

As for those quirky characters who have a scene here and there (or in this case, only here as they only appear once), they are fun to write. You will meet mad Mrs Hogg and her famous hat, and the decrepit chairman of the Old Sinfordians who suffers from a, then, undiagnosed condition we, today, would call something else. A bit like Will who has OCD, but which, in 1892, wasn’t called that but probably considered some kind of mental deformity which it isn’t. In Will’s case, he calls it his ‘preciseness’, which is a far more appealing term than compulsive or obsessive and I don’t consider it a disorder either… But, let’s not get into all of that…

I found this chap online and wondered if it might be Will Merrit.

What you came here for is to learn that draft one is finished and topped off at 104,000 words, with about 95% of them correctly spelt. The first editing job will take me a week or so, and the second, a little longer. Meanwhile, I must turn my attention to blurbs and covers and saving to pay the proofreader and layout designers and all that jazz, while being aware that if I want any clues laid down in ‘A Fall from Grace’ that impact book three, I need to get them in there now.

So, back to work for me, and don’t forget to tune into Saturday’s blog when you can read more of the original, unpublished, opening of ‘Finding a Way.’

Also, don’t forget the Book Funnel promotion and the wealth of LGTBQ+ romantic mysteries on offers from a wide range of authors. Here’s the link to click:



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. http://jacksonmarsh.com/newsletter/

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.

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…

Nearly at the End of the Road: WIP 6:13

Jack Merrit – everyone’s heartthrob but his own.

I am nearly at the end of the editing process for ‘Finding a Way’, the Delamere Files, book one. A few more chapters to re-re-read and re-re-edit, and the whole MS can go off to Anne for proofing. The cover is done, the blurb is almost ready, and there will be a full cover reveal in the next couple of weeks.

I’ve been taking on some extra paid work, so haven’t had much time to continue with book two, ‘A Fall from Grace’, but I will be back to it today as soon as I have sent the first book to be proofed. Book two is at 48,000 words, about halfway through, and book one comes in at just over 100,000, so plenty of new reading will be coming your way soon. Neil is currently reading Finding a Way, and I’m looking forward to his feedback. I think.

Without giving away too much of the cover, here’s the face that inspired the face – a before and after if you like, as created by my wonderful cover designer, Andjela V.

Jack Merrit, a young cab driver. The original photo from pre-1900
Jack Merrit – everyone’s heartthrob but his own.

Two at Once. WIP 6:12

Finding a Way

The two-at-once scenario persists. I am giving ‘Finding a Way’ my almost final read-through before sending it to be proofed. After that, I will do another read before setting a release date. Andjela has provided me with several cover ideas, and I have chosen one. By the look of the cover, I have invented a new TV detective series set in the late 1800s, which is (almost) what I intended. Dazzling, who does my illustrations, is working on a character drawing of one of the MCs, because I like dropping them at the front of the books these days, and I am still fussing about whether the book is any good or not, but that’s par for the course. (It is good, but because it gives us new characters, I always worry about what’s going to happen to them.)

Fall From Grace

Meanwhile, book two in the new series has a title and 45,000 words of a slowly evolving mystery, during which my main character starts to find his feet as a Clearwater detective and as a recently able-to-be-out gay man in 1892.

Where book one is more of an introduction/prequel than a mystery, book two starts off with a case. A client charges my new detective with finding a missing man. My newbie, Jack Merrit, is being tutored by old hand, Jimmy Wright, and is finding the transition… Well, I’m not saying too much right now as I’m not even halfway through, but I know where I am going – though the characters don’t yet know what’s in store (insert an evil laugh), and I know how things are going to work out in the end.

The end will, of course, lead to book three… But that’s a way down the line right now.

The Series

I was going to keep details of the new series quiet for as long as possible, but I’m getting to the stage where I have to start dropping teasers and hints. So, I can now give you the title, font and subtitle that will accompany the new books, and the first one will look like this:

The Delamere Files, eh? Uh huh. Each one (after book one) will be a case for my trainee detective. I intend to keep my three main characters and build them and their relationships as they find their way through this new world of being investigators of one sort or another, and around them, I’ll build more traditional mysteries than the sometimes-outlandish ones we have in Clearwater and Larkspur. (All of which were perfectly feasible, and some of which actually happened.) While all that is going on, favourites from Clearwater and Larkspur will give us guest appearances, and the main characters of Jack Merrit, Will Merrit, and Larkin Chase will develop, fall in and fall out, and… who knows what else.

So, that’s where I am right now. I am heading back to book two, chapter 11, somewhere in West Kent in July 1892, and a graveyard…

WIP: At Sixes and Sevens

I’m not, actually. Not at sixes and sevens, that is, but I am working on book two of the new series, which would be work in progress seven since I started the WIP blog, and I am also working on the first in the series, which would be WIP six. The first is almost complete, I am doing my ‘last edit before proofing’ but haven’t set a date for proofing yet, because I need to be further into book two first. So, unusually for me, I have two major works on the go at the same time. We also have family visiting, which means fewer working hours, but I’m still up at 3.00 each morning to get started and make the most of the time I have.

Where did the expression ‘at sixes and sevens’ come from?

Here’s an aside. First of all, this is an idiom, a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words. (Deducible: possible to discover based on the information or evidence that is available.)

Grammarist. Usage of the idiom over time.

According to Grammarist.com: The idiom at sixes and sevens came out of the 14th century from an old dice game where throwing a six or a seven was filled with risk and uncertainty. It appeared in Chaucer’s work “Troilus and Criseyde,” back in 1374, and the excerpt read, “Lat nat this wrechched wo thyn herte gnawe, But manly set the world on sexe and seuene.”

Those last words are six and seven in Old English. (Just in case, like me, you were asleep when they did Chaucer at school.) Good old Wonkipedia agrees that the idiom evolved from a card game, and adds: William Shakespeare uses a similar phrase in Richard II (around 1595), “But time will not permit: all is uneven, And every thing is left at six and seven“.


Currently, my desk is surrounded by pieces of paper stuck to the shelves, and beside my open notebook. This is because book two in the new Delamere (or Clearwater Detective Agency) series involves a lot of detail in its backstory, and I have to keep track. A man is missing, and it falls to the newly appointed detective’s assistants, Jack and Will Merrit to investigate. While they are doing this, Jack is still coming to terms with his feelings for Larkin Chase but is confused by his feelings towards his new boss, James.

The typing corner in my workhouse today.

The story fits into the Clearwater world, after ‘The Larkspur Legacy’ and is set in London. A couple of Clearwater/Larkspur characters have made appearances in the first and now, second, book, but it’s not about the Clearwater crew, as the previous series were. It’s about my new MC, Jack Merrit, a handsome hansom driver with a very ‘precise’ younger brother, and how they find themselves rocketed from Limehouse to Knightsbridge, poor to middle class, through a series of unexpected circumstances. As per my usual, there is a mystery to solve, action and adventure, and in this case, a slow-burn love story that, over the course of several books, will see the MC travel from longing to lust to losing, to…? At least, that’s the plan.

I am currently on 28,000 words of book two, which doesn’t yet have a title, but which is inspired by ‘Men of a Similar Heart’ a story I wanted to tell, but one which didn’t fit into the Clearwater world. Until now.

Symi Dream Blog

By the way, as soon as I have posted this, I am off to post on my other blog, SymiDream. If you want to see the non-story side of me and where I live, then bookmark that blog which I update around five times per week with all kinds of island chat and other matters. Whatever takes my fancy really. Today, I am talking about this blog a little, so it makes sense on this one to talk a little about that one…

You see what I mean about being at sixes and sevens? Lol.

See you back here on Saturday.

WIP: 6.10. Finding the Way

Today’s news is that I have finished the first draft and first story read-through of the first book in the Delamare Files series. The draft comes in at 103,000 words, and the ending makes it clear there is to be a sequel. I have started on that already, and know the mystery plot, the feel of the story and its message/theme.

Meanwhile, as I aim to get halfway through book two before finishing book one, there is still a way to go before book one will be ready for you. A few months without a new release means a drop in sales, sadly, so I am having to juggle publicity work with creative work, and as I am not very good at the former, it’s quite a challenge.

Finding the Way

However, the first in the series does now have a title, Finding the Way. You know me and my titles. I like to fit in a double meaning if possible and make the title have relevance to two sides of the story. Finding the Way refers to the MC, Jack Merrit, being a cabbie in 1892 and thus, being able to find his way from A to B thanks to his knowledge of the streets. It also refers to him finding his way towards accepting himself and his affection for another man. There’s a third play on words which happens in the very last line, but I’m not giving that away right now.

Sinford’s Scandal

That’s the working title of book two, and this story is drawn from an idea I had for a Clearwater mystery. I’ve mentioned it before in passing, as it was a story that didn’t fit anywhere, but it is perfect for the Delamare Files series. You see, this new series is to be much more detective and case-based. Rather than our main characters constantly hounded by personal enemies, they are working on behalf of other people through the Clearwater Detective Agency. Though, having said that, they have enemies of their own; disgruntled crooks, mobs whose members they have put away, fed-up villains who want to get their own back. With the cast being predominantly gay, and with the series set in 1892, there is also an overarching danger of living as gay men when being gay was punishable by up to two years in prison with hard labour. Not that ‘gay’ was ‘gay’ back then, nor was it even ‘homosexual,’ not yet. (The word had been coined, but only in obscure medical journals and only used among a few medical professionals).

So, that is where we are right now. I’m about to start on chapter four of Sinford’s, while Finding the Way waits in the background. Now and then I pop back to it to rewrite something or focus an idea, so it is still maturing. Stray thoughts come to me, and I have to rush to a notebook and jot down a better line, and later, make the change. I’m always doing this. Mind you, I still do it with lyrics I wrote over 20 years ago—change a word here and there even though the song will never be performed again—and I’ve just done it to the complete MS for ‘The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge’ which is now rereleased for the better.

I’ll be back on Saturday with something more substantial. In the meantime, I’ll keep on at my full-time job: writing.