Where There’s a Will

Hi everyone, and welcome to my Wednesday roundup of news. Today, I am very pleased to tell you I have made a good start on the next Delamere File mystery, and it’s titled, ‘Where There’s a Will.’

If you have been following the series, you will know that my two main characters are Jack and Will Merrit. Jack has featured as the lead of the first three books as he goes from being a hard-working London cabman to being a hard-working private investigator. He’s been trying to come to terms with his change in position, his sexuality, and his feelings towards the writer, Larkin Chase.

Book three will see his brother Will as the main character, although Jack is involved. Will has his own issues, though not around sexuality. He has a ‘condition of preciseness’ as he calls it, a kind of OCD, but not quite. It’s a fine line between madness and genius and Will is approaching that line, although he’s not mad.

Anyway… Where There’s a Will obviously relates to Will Merrit, but it also relates to the reading of a Will on a remote island in the Bristol Channel. The island is modelled on Lundy, though in the story it is Templar Island, and the brothers are charged to go there to be present at the reading of a will.


You will find out, but first I must find out, lol. I have written my synopsis on a small piece of paper, and here it is, the bottom one. Don’t look too closely as there’s an outside chance you might be able to read my scrawl and I don’t want to give you any spoilers.

(The top piece is the railway timetable from London to Bideford in October 1892)

So, I am already at chapter five, which is around 14,000 words into the story and so far, we have a quest, an unrequited love story theme, and a few laughs. We will soon be at the mystery stage before the threat and peril kick in.

In the meantime, I am pleased to say Follow the Van has been going well, and I have had a few private messages telling me how much readers have enjoyed it. Remember, if you can, reviews on Amazon really help because the more there are, the more coverage the books get.

I’ll be back on Saturday with news of another promo and some other information that might be of interest. Until then, have a good week!

Appledore, Devon, where chapter five is set. The yellow line is where the now defunct railway used to run.

Mardi Gras LGBTQI+ Romance Promo

Yup, I have another promo to tell you about, and this one is the Mardi Gras LGBTQI+ Romance Promo.


There are 75 titles in this promo, with all books being available on Amazon, Kindle, and some on other platforms too. Each has an info page that you find by clicking the book cover, and those pages come with a summary or blurb.

I have two series starters in there, Deviant Desire, and Guardians of the Poor. I expect most of you have read them already because you are lovely, loyal readers, but there must be plenty of titles and new authors in the list waiting for you to discover. Looking at those covers, you can see there is an eclectic mix of niches, including friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, contemporary, fantasy, MM romance, FF romance, and, of course, historical fiction. Among the authors, you will find Addison Albright, Anne Barwell, and Ann Lister.

There is even one that features a model I used on one of my covers. T.L. Travis has ‘A Little Christmas, Orion’s Secret’ in the promo, and the guy on the cover is the same one who appears on my Dracula-related mystery, ‘The Stoker Connection.’ We share the same taste in tasty main characters!

Check out the list, click a few covers to explore further, and recommend your favourite authors on my Facebook Page.

There’s another massive promo coming next month, and I’ll be sending out a newsletter about that at the start of March.

Follow The Van

As Wednesdays are my work-in-progress update day, here’s a quick update on Follow the Van (The Delamere Files book three).

This novel has probably given me more hassle than any other I have written. Why? I am not sure. One reason is because of interruptions, but another is having too many ideas. There are so many threads, I am worried they have led to a lot of repetition. That will all be fixed, and the repetition is me reminding myself of what happened when I last picked up the pen two weeks ago, or even yesterday.

Fear not! It will be fine in the end, and the end is what is in sight. I have started on the climax/finale, though I have left the build-up to it until I have finished the climax, so I know how to start it… You see? It’s one of those that needs a good, long re-look once I’ve stumbled to the end. I’ll keep at it and am aiming to finish the first draft (in whatever form) by this time next week.

Click to find the promo with 75 titles.

Follow the Van Research

In the absence of any bright ideas for today’s blog, I decided to check out my current work-in-progress folder and see what was lurking there. As you know, the current WIP is called ‘Follow the Van’ and the story has something to do with the music halls of Victorian London. Therefore, what’s in my folder, apart from the text files, are research images that I’ve pulled from here and there.

Here’s what I have and a short explanation of why. This might give you an insight into how I put research together, although these images are the tip of a larger iceberg of reading, books, maps and online pages. Apologies if I’ve already shown you some in other posts.

First of all, this shot of the Gaiety Theatre in Strand, London. Clearly, the photo was taken later than 1892, because of the engine of the omnibus, but the building is how my characters would have seen it. The theatre lasted from 1864 (as the Strand Musick Hall) until it closed in 1938.

The Gaiety Theatre, Strand, London

A map of the Boundary Estate in Shoreditch from 1892. The estate was also known as The Old Nichol and was considered the worst slum area of London. At the time my novel is set, the estate was being changed, people were being moved out and a new estate was being built. My story concerns a theft from a dwelling in Mount Street on the eastern edge of the estate.

A cutting from a newspaper (I think it was The Times) from 1892. Yesterday, I was writing about the Charing Cross Music Hall, which is still operating today as a theatre beneath Charing Cross Station. As you can see, Marie Lloyd was on the bill at the time my story was set, and after I’ve posted this. I am heading into chapter 19, where Jack Merrit will come face to face with the woman who was on stage with his father when he died.

Cutting from The Times, September 1892

This is a shot of the inside of the Roman Road music hall, another venue that is still in use today. I’m not using this particular one in the story, but the image gives me inspiration, as does the history of the building. Now called Wilton’s Music Hall, you can find out more at its website.

Wilton’s Music Hall

This is the London Music Hall in Shoreditch. This one has had a few names, thanks to having several owners over the years. The theatre was at 95-99, Shoreditch High Street, formerly Holywell Street. Originally built in the year 1856, and called the Griffin Music Hall and Pub, it was rebuilt in 1894 as the London Theatre of Varieties. In 1896 it became known as The London Music Hall. In 1924 it became the Shoreditch Empire Theatre and was demolished in 1935.

Finally, this image of Tower Bridge that I mentioned on my Facebook page the other day. I was writing a chapter where Jack sits outside a pub overlooking the building of the ‘new’ Tower Bridge. It’s 1892, and it’s September 28th, so I looked online to see if I could find out what stage the construction was at. Lo and behold, there was a photo of the bridge taken on that exact day! Here it is, with Jack just out of shot along the bank sipping a pint and waiting for his client to arrive.

That’s it. The rest of my ‘Follow the Van’ folder is filled with the various chapters, outlines and research notes which I’ll save for another day.

The Last WIP Update of 2023

Hi folks, I’ll be posting something on Saturday, and then heading off into the holiday season straight after that. I will, though be on Facebook as usual, and if you keep an eye on my page there, you should see some shots of our madcap family Christmas and a trip to Athens we have arranged for the week after.

Meanwhile, a quick update on my work in progress: Follow the Van.

I have managed to move things on a little since my last post, when I was focusing on the release of ‘1892’ which, I am pleased to say, is doing well and has already gained several five-star rates and a couple of excellent reviews around the world, Canada and Australia, actually, which is excellent.

As for ‘Follow the Van’, that’s now up to 35,000 words and I am having one of those moments when the story is flowing, lots is building up, and I am approaching a halfway mark and yet… Oops! There’s a lot to set correctly in this one and I seem to be taking the time to construct a lead-in to the untwisting of the mystery. That’s not a problem, though, because when it starts, it’s going to unravel pretty quickly and, with strong foundations laid, it should be a fast and furious ride to the end. I shouldn’t read too much into that. It will probably all change when I get back to writing after my holiday.

Until then, I am still writing away, although today, I must also see about a kitchen light, write a review for one of my companies, play the piano a bit, and meet a friend for Christmas drinks tonight, but in between all of that, there will be some typing on ‘Follow the Van.’

Btw, part of the plot involves a song and a clue to the mystery is contained within it, so I have set about writing a late-Victorian music hall song in the appropriate style. I’m basing the lyrics on the song from which the book gets its title, ‘Don’t Dilly Dally on the Way.’ (The ‘way’ perhaps being a reference to Jack Merrit finding his feet and falling in love in ‘Fining a Way.’) The original song wasn’t written until 1919, but I’m only using the scansion and rhythm, not the words, so I think that’s fair. Also, I wanted a song that the reader might know, so that they could more easily imaging the song being sung, and I’m pretty sure most British people at least would have heard the song:

My old man said “Foller the van,
And don’t dilly dally on the way”.

Off went the van wiv me ‘ome packed in it,
I walked behind wiv me old cock linnet.
But I dillied and dallied, dallied and I dillied
Lost me way and don’t know where to roam.
Well you can’t trust a special like the old time coppers
When you can’t find your way ‘ome.

I’m not sure if that’s the original spelling, but you know what I mean.

Now, I must find my way home, pop the kettle on and settle down to do some writing. See you on Saturday!

WIP: 1892 Published in Kindle

Good morning. The news this Wednesday is quite simple. My recent work in progress, 1892, is now out in Kindle format and on KU. The paperback version will be a little while longer because we needed to adjust the spine and its text (my fault), but hopefully, it will be with us within the week. This means I can get back to my other work in progress, ‘Follow the Van’ which I have started revisiting after a few weeks away.

It’s always a good idea to keep notes as you’re writing a first draft, and I have a book beside me with the notes I make when writing or rereading a chapter. This is particularly important with a mystery or a detective novel because there are so many tiny facts which have to be consistent. I reread my notes, put them in order again, transfer them to the main, larger notebook on my writing table, and then completely forget what I’ve just noted. Each time I go through the draft chapters to refresh myself, I make more notes, until I have all manner of lists and ideas, details and pointers hanging around beside me.

Another thing I’ve started doing with the Delamere series is to make some notes within the manuscript. I use footnotes to remind myself to check I have tied up a thread or answered a question. Put another way, when I write something I know needs explaining later, I put a footnote to remind myself ‘Make sure this is explained later’ kind of thing. Then, when I read the draft back, I check the note, and if I’ve explained later, I delete it. If I haven’t, I leap forward to where it needs to be explained and make the change. While I am doing this, I am also going through my book, crossing out what’s been done, and preparing a separate list of what still needs to be clarified, cut or developed.

For now, I am going to work on ‘Follow the Van’ up until Christmas, and then take two weeks off – we’re all going to Athens for New Year; more about that another time. More about the WIP and other matters in time too. I’ll have my usual Saturday and Wednesday blogs up until 23rd December, and will then be away. So, if you’ve not downloaded your copy of ‘1892’ yet, here’s the Amazon.com link, though the book is available in other Amazon stores.

A Free Copy of the first Clearwater Tales

Members of my private Facebook group will be able to take their free copy of my cosy Christmas short story collection, ‘1892’ on Monday and Tuesday of next week,

Here’s how you can claim your free copy of ‘1892, The Clearwater Tales, Volume One.’

Head to my private Facebook group, Jackson’s Deviant Desires and if you haven’t already joined the group.

You must do this by Monday when it will be possible to download a free copy of ‘1892’ from a post within the group.

The copy of the book will be in the Files section, found at the top of the group page.

The files will only be available on Monday and Tuesday, 11th and 12th December. I will take the files down on Wednesday morning, European time (GMT + 2).

1892 will also be on sale from early next week, on Amazon, in paperback, Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited.

Queer Reads

While you are waiting for that, don’t forget that three of my books are included in the Queer Reads book promo on BookFunnel. There are lots of titles there, each with a gay lit theme or story of some sort, and some are on offer.

The titles I have on promo there are Deviant Desire, Guardians of the Poor, and Finding a Way, the series starters for all three of my Victorian mystery series.

Welcome to New Readers

Here’s a quick hello to everyone who has joined our group and discovered my titles thanks to a promo in LGBTQ+ M/M Euro Book Banter that I was involved in last week. The group is running an advent calendar all through the month with a new author every day, and each author giving away a copy of one of their books. Fellow author Barbara Alsborg won my giveaway and claimed a copy of Deviant Desire, and there are still plenty more days to go on the advent calendar, so plenty more books to claim.


If you miss the giveaway on Monday/Tuesday, look out for news of where you can pick up a copy of ‘1892’ from Amazon, or head to my author page and check there. I aim to upload the files and release the book on Monday to coincide with my private giveaway, so it should be available in plenty of time for you to curl up with a cosy and sometimes amusing read, as five favourite characters tell their stories.

I’ll be back with an update on Wednesday.

Non-strangers on a Train

Last week, I came up with the idea of producing a collection of short stories as a freebie for my readers. I asked for suggestions via my FB page, my group, and my blog, and I’ve now had several replies. I’ve also worked out the premise, and have gathered my five characters together on the 11.45 train from London to Cornwall, on Christmas Eve 1892.

I chose that date to fit in with the current Delamere series (which is so far set in 1892) and to follow on from the Larkspur series, which finished on Christmas Eve, 1891. We will get an update on what’s happening at Larkspur Hall, because that is where the five characters are heading, and they are heading there for the famous Larkspur Christmas Ball. This event was featured in ‘Fallen Splendour’ and then again at the end of ‘The Larkspur Legacy,’ and it’s the occasion when Lord Clearwater treats all his staff, tenants and their families to a lavish party in the great hall at Larkspur.

Here’s a rather obvious clue to one of the characters.

On the journey, each of the five characters will tell a story from their past, and so far, I have decided on one of these stories, but I still need to invent the other four. However, there will be another, a sixth in total, because although my characters are travelling in a private carriage, they are not alone. Someone else has gained a seat, but as he is sitting quietly at the back and is asleep, they decide to let him stay. Being Clearwater characters, they also suggest he might like to share in the supplies they have brought with them for the eight-hour journey if he wakes up.

Who this character is, and what he is doing there will be explained at the end of the book, which I intend to be reasonably short. I am guessing at around 50,000 words, but knowing me…

So far, I have an outline for the various chapters, and I’ve put it here so you can see who is on this journey. You’ll also see that I’ve modelled the index at least on Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, but the text will definitely not be made up of long poems in Olde English!

May 1892

Here’s who will be appearing in the index, and I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this project and ‘Follow the Van’ (Delamere part three) as the weeks roll on towards Christmas, when anyone subscribed to my newsletter and any members of my group Jackson’s Deviant Desires will get a Pdf copy for free. The book will later be on sale via the usual channels. (Anyone can subscribe to my occasional newsletters, and to my group, just follow the links.)

The Christmas Journey (not the eventual title)

The Prologue – In which five characters meet and a stranger takes note.
The Detective’s Tale*
The Baron’s Tale
The Housekeeper’s Tale
The Antiquarian’s Tale
The Professor’s Tale
The Stranger’s Tale – In which all is revealed and yet nothing is completely ended.
The Epilogue

As you can see, each chapter will also have a sub-heading in the style of Victorian serialisations. I’ve always wanted to do this, ‘In which we discover…’ kind of chapter heading, but it’s so outdated, that it’s never yet fit with anything I’ve written. Now’s my chance!

* Btw, although James Wright was a popular suggestion, he is not the detective in this case. I have gone for Will Merrit so that we have two Clearwater characters, two Larkspur characters, and one from the new series. You can probably guess who the others are.

There were many suggestions and my aim is to include some or all of the other suggestions within the stories, though they are not the ones telling them. So, you should get a Christmas dose of your favourite characters one way or the other.

As for the stranger… You will have to wait and see.

A Fall from Grace: Cover Reveal

Today, I shall be finishing my last edits on ‘A Fall from Garce’, the second in the new Delamere Files mystery series set in 1892.

To celebrate this, I have the full cover to show you, and it’s another stunner from Andjela V, who is currently completing the full wrap-around cover ready for uploading when the MS is set out into book format. That should be happening in the next few days, and the book should be ready for release later next week.

I am aware that ‘Finding a Way’ left one of the story threads hanging, and I did this on purpose. I made sure I was well into writing book two before I let book one loose, and that’s why you haven’t had to wait long between them. Don’t worry, in a few days, you will be able to continue Jack and Will Merrit’s journey into the world of private investigation and, in Jack’s case, coming to terms with being attracted to men, finding the right one, being tempted by many others, and, maybe, falling in love. Who knows? Jack is new to everything that’s not part of his old life of long workdays, living in near poverty, the docks at Limehouse, and family expectations.

I’ve already started on book three, which is going to be another mystery moving the characters and underlying stories forward, but you will have to wait until the New Year for that one. Meanwhile, here is the blurb and the cover for book two, ‘A Fall from Grace.’

A Fall from Grace

The Delamere Files Book Two

Hired by the esteemed Clearwater Detective Agency, and determined to prove themselves worthy, Jack and Will Merrit face their first case: They have eight days to unravel past events at an English public school, find a missing man and prevent his suicide.

A new life brings intriguing potentials as Jack grapples with his attraction towards men. As the assistant to the manly and assured, Jimmy Wright, he must put aside his longing for Larkin Chase and the temptations of a new stable lad, and face the weight of his new responsibility. The Merrit brothers’ future depends on it.

But when circumstances pull Jimmy away, Jack and Will are left alone to navigate a map of deceit, solve the case, and save a man’s life, even if it means risking their own.

Cover Reveal

Click the image to open the cover.

‘A Fall from Grace’ is About to Land

The second in the new Delamere Files series of Victorian mysteries with gay characters, MM romance, and adventure is almost ready to go live. It only remains for me to finish reading the final proof of ‘A Fall from Grace’ (another five days, perhaps), for the layout guys to work their magic (a further couple of days, depending on their availability), and for me to upload the files and hit the release button—another day as it doesn’t take long.

I will reveal the full cover to you on Saturday, and also give you the blurb, so that, I hope, is something to look forward to, with a release date within the next two weeks, fingers crossed.

Coming soon…

Without giving anything away, I can tell you that part of the story harks back to a British public school in the 1870s through to the 1880s, and a section of the book is written by someone else. I mean, a character has written his story for our detectives to read (and there are some other diaries, but not too many). To give you an idea of how this character writes, here is a short section from his memoirs. They only form about three chapters of a 28-chapter novel, the rest is (more or less) from Jack Merrit’s point of view.

Here, the character tells us his dark thoughts on the public school system (1880)

The seniors above us left Grace Tower to make their way into the world as men forged by the callous pounding of the Sinford’s hammer on the anvil of tradition that flattened any crease of individuality or creativity. Men were smelted from base material in the crucible of the public school system, and once tempered, poured into moulds vacated by their fathers and theirs before them. Those who opposed were caught in the clamps and chiselled, worked, and drawn out until, free of all impurities, they became Old Sinfordians, free to set foot upon the green and pleasant land of Blake’s imagination. There, they forged their own progeny in their own image among the dark satanic mills of adulthood.

I have created a few new characters for this story, and some may reappear later in the series. Among them are the protagonist and antagonist, two old boys, now men, from Sinford’s School for Boys. You’ll also meet some eccentrics. There’s a new stable lad at Delamare House, Mrs Norwood makes a brief appearance, as does our old favourite, Doctor Markland who first appeared in ‘Deviant Desire’ back at the start of the Clearwater Mysteries. If you’ve read that series’ prequel, ‘Banyak & Fecks’, you might have noticed he appears in that too, though Fecker, who meets him, can’t remember his name.

Anyway… That’s where I am today. After work, I shall continue to read the proofs, hopefully making the final tweaks to ensure the rather complicated story is easy enough to follow, and I’ll be back on Saturday to show you the full cover, another stunner from Andjela V.

If you’ve not started on the Delamere Files yet, then you can find book one here: Finding a Way.

On sale now. Click the image.

A Fall from Grace: Cover Reveal


This weekend, I wanted to whet your appetite for the second book in the new ‘Delamere Files’ series, ‘A Fall from Grace.’

I am going to reveal the cover… but not quite yet. I have one more read of the MS to do before I send it off to be formatted, so it is snow only a couple of weeks away. Meanwhile, later this week, I will reveal the new and fantastic cover from Andjela V.

A Fall from Grace sees Jack Merrit’s first case with the Clearwater Detective Agency at Delamere House, and the first time he has lived anywhere but in Limehouse. There’s a lot for Jack to adjust to new surroundings, new luck, a new job, and men. First, there’s what to do about Larkin Chase, the man he met in book one, then, there’s the dashing detective, Jimmy Wright, and before long, along comes a stable hand, Ben Baxter… Temptation all around, but also, a case to work on, a mystery to unravel and a life to save.

The mystery began 12 years earlier in a British public school (a private, fee-paying school), where friendships endured into later life. In 1892, one of a small group of very close friends is now missing and in danger, and it’s up to Jack and Will to work out where and by when this man can be found.

That’s all I am going to say right now. You’ll have to wait a couple more weeks to get to the full story, and in the meantime, you’ll get to see the cover and blurb later this week.

As for me, I am working on book three, currently called ‘Silence and Limelight’, while I wait for the final ‘Grace’ MS to come in, so I can give it its last read-through.

Where ‘A Fall from Grace’ has a public school as its background, ‘Silence and Limelight’ has the Victorian Music Hall, and I’m happily beavering away on research and reading to better inform my writing. The characters of Jack and Will Merrit are evolving as the stories continue, I am still referring to my 1888 maps of London for accuracy, and I am putting together a mystery which will take Jack into the story of his family’s past. But all that is for later.

For now, here’s the image to tempt you – it gives little away – and if you haven’t yet started on the new series, book one, ‘Finding a Way’ is up there and waiting.

I am releasing book two quite soon after book one because book one leaves a major storyline unfinished (on purpose), but book two continues it.

Check my Wednesday blog for more information about ‘Silence and Limelight’, and news of the next new release, coming soon.

Available now. Click the cover.