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.

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.

The Delamare Files

Looking Ahead and Thinking Aloud

Today, I think ahead to what you can expect from me next in a post that is something of a therapeutic ramble for me, and hopefully, an interesting read for you.

The New Series

As you will read on Wednesday, I have completed the first draft of the first book in the new series, and have still not settled on a title for the book or a subtitle for the series. I know how the series is to run, and I am looking forward to it unravelling over the coming months, and I also know it is to be a second spinoff from the Clearwater series. It will be set in the Clearwater world in London in 1892, following the adventures of the Larkspur Series, and yet, it won’t be directly related to either of the two series that have gone before. The new series will revolve around Delamere House, home of the Clearwater Detective Agency, and characters from the past stories will make appearances in supporting roles, as and when needed.

The main characters in the new series are to be:

Jack Merrit, a London cabbie from Limehouse, aged 25.
Will Merrit, his brother, a man who is very ‘precise’, aged 21.
Larkin Chase, an investigative journalist, aged 30.

Book One

In book one, the reader will also meet five characters from the previous series playing supporting roles. There are also new villains and a new ‘feel’ to the series. Let’s say, it’s more of a classic detective-story vibe, yet has all the Jackson Marsh elements of coming to terms with being gay at a time when it was illegal, first love (and sex), good Vs evil, men supporting men, class divide, action, adventure, humour and, of course, mystery.

Book one isn’t so much of a mystery, however, and is a fully contained story acting as an introduction to what will come next, which will be a mashup of Victorian mystery, MM Romance, Bromance, adventure, Action and a little bit of bonkerness from some quirky characters.

Book Two

Book two… Well, I am starting that today while book one sits and matures in my head before I address the final writes and edits. Once I am happy book two will run, I will set about releasing book one, with the second instalment coming a month or so later.

Meanwhile, I might already have a title for book two in ‘The Delamere Files’ series (just one idea), and that is ‘The Sinford Scandal’ (just another idea). The background to the story I have in mind came about some time ago while I was writing Clearwater and Larkspur books, but it didn’t fit into their flow. So… After telling you all that, here’s a little about what you can expect in the new series, or at least, the kind of story you can expect once book one is published, and the series is up and running later this year.

These notes are from my original draft of ‘Men of a Similar Heart’, a book I never wrote, but a title I very much like.

I used one of my favourite techniques for my second attempt to start this story, I opened with a newspaper cutting. This device is useful for many reasons: it can set the back story, it can give a deadline (as it does at the start of ‘Unspeakable Acts’), and it can set up the mystery, as it does in this case.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette

Monday, November 26th, 1877

Tragedy At Sinford's
A grim discovery was made on Friday last at Sinford's School for Boys, Moorside. On rousing the men of Drake House, the Housemaster, Rev. D Spencer discovered a student absent from his bed, and soon after when searching for the pupil, was confronted with a scene of great tragedy. 
The body of Luc Verdier was discovered in the attic of the building hanging from a rafter by a rope fashioned into an ill-formed, but fatal noose about his neck. Verdier, we are told, was the son of a diplomat of the French Embassy and had attended Sinford's since coming up from prep school. Rev. Spencer described him as a highly intelligent young man with a proclivity towards physical sportsmanship, vice-captain of the First XI, first seat oarsman and holder of the school trophy for the javelin and other athletic pursuits. A well-liked and admired young man, Rev. Spencer described him as a friend to all and an enemy to no-one. The Housemaster has also said that he can think of no reason why Mr Verdier should wish to end his life, and reported the pupil had shown no signs of anxiety or distress in the days or weeks before the tragedy.
The police have issued a statement. Pupils of the house are all seniors and have been interviewed in the presence of Rev. Spencer and their Headmaster, but no further information concerning Verdier's state of mind has come to light. His study companion stated that Verdier was in his bed and sleeping before the lights were extinguished for the night, and spent an untroubled night despite, he said, of a dream which woke him once. Unable to say exactly what time he awoke, the pupil was able to confirm that Verdier was still abed and asleep at that time.
No other statements have been made about the case save for a message from the Headmaster, made through the Plymouth constabulary. In it, Headmaster McKay, BSc, asks for privacy for the school at this difficult time, a request, The Gazette shall, of course, honour.

This is the event that will, years later, lead to an intriguing mystery that will come with a deadline, a race against time and a few unexpected twists. At least, that’s the plan.


You know, writing this blog post at 4.00 in the morning has helped me put the future into focus. The more I witter on here, the more I like the sound of ‘The Delamere Files’, and the keener I am to start mapping book two. It will need to come out pretty soon after book one because some storylines in book one remain unresolved, and I won’t want to keep you hanging around. So, I shall be away now, and do just that; start a new story back-to-back with the last one, leaving book one in a state of second draftness until it is time to return to it.


Talking of blogs, if you are interested to read my personal ‘Living on a Greek island’ blog, I am starting it up again after a two-year lunch break. It will go live tomorrow, Sunday, and I’ll be posting nonsense and images about island life on a more or less regular basis while keeping up my usual Jackson Saturday and Wednesday blog posts here. It will be nice to welcome you to where James and Jackson meet.

WIP: 6.09. First Draft Complete

The update news today is the first draft of the first book in the next series is complete, except for a short chapter at the end to move us forward to book two, lots of editing and some rewriting, the proofing, cover, layout and, most importantly, the title.


I’ve spoken about titles before and how they sometimes come out of the text, other times from a flash of inspiration in an unlikely moment, and sometimes, even before I start work on draft one. In this case, the title isn’t coming at all, though I have a list of ideas noted down as I have been writing; none of which have yet struck me as being ideal. They include:

471 Kingsland Road
The Cabman’s Adventure
The Cabman’s Knowledge
The Knowledge
The Driver and the Fare
The Cabbie and the Fare
Merrit & Chase
Something That’s a Play on Words about Cabbies Having the Knowledge of London Streets and Self Knowledge, or Street Names, or Roads, or…

And Onwards…

The current word count is 103,000, and that’s without the sections I have cut; two chapters of backstory, an introduction written by one of the main characters, half of chapter 21, and the complete first draft of the final chapter which I have completely rewritten. I am still editing out repetition and sections that are in the wrong place, and those I read back and think, ‘What on earth was I trying to say here?’

Today, I will be continuing my reread from where I left off yesterday at chapter eight (out of 26), and will continue to agonise over the title. What’s not changed, however, is the original idea, that the story is based on a piece from the 1870s by James Greenwood, though the novel is set in 1892, and the images of my two main characters. Rather, my main character, Jack Merrit, and the impact character, Larkin Chase. The impact character (IC) is who the main character comes up against and the one who doesn’t change, thus, he has an impact on the MC who has to change for us to have an emotionally driven story.

Larkin Chase is my IC, and Jack is the MC. In this novel, we have archetypal characters in the classic storytelling, hero’s journey tradition. Jack, the reluctant hero, has a sidekick, his brother Will, who also acts as the mentor character. Larkin Chase is the protagonist and IC. We have an antagonist in the form of a gang of East End criminals, shapeshifters (not the fantasy story kind) in the varying shapes of waterboys, servants and cabbies, and we have the voice of reason character in the form of someone you will recognise if you have read the Clearwater and Larkspur series. I will say no more…

What we don’t yet have is a title or cover idea, but that will come later. Meanwhile, as I return to the typo-writer, I’ll leave you with images of the MC and the IC, one or both of whom may end up on the cover beneath the title…. Whatever.

Jack Merrit, a young cab driver
Larkin Chase, an investigator of social injustices

WIP: 6.08. Nearing the End.

First: The Mentor of Barrenmoor Ridge will be free all day on Saturday 24th June to celebrate Pride Weekend (somewhere in the world) and Pride month. Also, to celebrate its new, tidier edition, with enhanced readability.

I have learnt so much over the last few years, I have a new mission. When I can, to go back and tidy up earlier novels, and Barrenmoor is the first to receive the treatment. Here’s its page, but it will be FREE everywhere for 24 hours on Saturday (Amazon time.)

Merrit & Chase

I am nearing the end of the first draft of ‘As Yet Untitled. A new Mystery Series, Book One.’ This may end up being titled, ‘Merrit & Chase’ as that’s one of the ideas I am playing with. Others include a play on words around ‘Knowledge’ because Jack Merrit is a London hansom cab driver in 1892. Other ideas include something to do with the word Two, or Streets, a street address (not very punchy), or a phase that lurks somewhere in the draft that’s not yet leapt out at me but might do when I start on draft two.

I am nearing the end of the first draft now and am at 90,000 words (with two chapters of backstory already cut), and have about another 10,000 words to go. Then, I will edit, cut, rewrite, check and dither, before repeating the process and moving on to book two. I can’t say when this one will be ready for publication, but I can tell you I have a title for the series.

Yes, I have made up my mind. On hearing my decision, my husband said, ‘You just can’t leave them alone, can you?’ which made me laugh. No. And why should I? Astute readers of mine will understand what he meant when I give you the series title, and tell you it is to be…

The Delamere Mysteries

At least, that’s the plan for now. More to follow in due course.

A hansom cab