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What’s wrong with my synopsis?

What's wrong with my synopsis?

What’s wrong with my synopsis?

I’m a relatively new author, in so far as I’ve been writing bits and pieces for years, but only last year did I venture onto the well-trodden, corpse-strewn path of the independent author.

I’ve had some success so far but also a lot of…um, I think silence describes it best. That’s alright; it’s normal so I gather. It will take a while before I develop the tools to get my name out there and start to receive any kind of income worth talking about/declaring.

But right now, at this moment, I have a very specific problem.

My latest thriller ‘Pursuit’ is getting up to 150 page views a day on Smashwords. I know, hardly stratospheric, but for me, in my status as a fairly new author – it’s okay. For now.

So what’s the problem?

Let me tell you: of those page views, hardly anyone is taking a peak inside the front cover. No one is even dowloading the free sample. A few are having the benevolence to click the facebook like button, but really – no one wants to read it. Or even dip their toe in.

Now I may have a problem with my writing, maybe the plot is no good, or maybe the style is too clunky and the narrative doesn’t flow. If that’s the case though, I’ll deal with that. The problem for now is that nobody even wants to find out. Ergo: my synopsis is ineffective.

Like most writers I’ve spent a good deal of time writing and re-writing that blurb, trying it on in different ways until it looked like something that would grab a passing reader and reel them in. In its current form, I really thought I had something.

But the inescapable fact of the matter is…I clearly don’t. IT’S NOT WORKING!!!

So…I was sort of wondering…would anyone be kind enough to take a look and let me know what exactly doesn’t snag your attention? What is so outrageously banal about my little pitch that you feel the urge to navigate away in a hurry?

I know you’re all busy, but all I need is five minutes of your time. Go on, you know you want to..





I don’t even know what this drink I just made is called, but as I sip from the chilled, misted glass, smack-bang in the here and now, it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my life.

I found a lime in my fruit bowl so I cut it into quarters and squeezed each segment into a shaker. After that I dissolved two teaspoons of sugar in the same quantity of boiling water and chucked that in too. Then I added a loooong pour of gin, a lot of ice, shook it till my fingers stung and poured it into a hi-ball glass.

As Gordon Ramsey would say: ‘Done.’

Keep your rainbow cocktails and sparklers, and give me ice cold, summer-fresh, citrus simplicity every time.

My crime thriller Pursuit available for free download at Smashwords

‘Twists and turns..the action is nonstop’

Get your copy of heist thriller ‘Pursuit’ FREE with coupon code TX46Z


Akyaka – away from Turkey’s tourist trail

Akyaka - away from Turkey's tourist trail

Akyaka is a little town in western Turkey, set into the hillside at the end of the bay of Gökova. Its two beaches are set at right angles to eachother, nestled into the crook of the bay and lapped by the clear turquoise waters where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas meet.

Kite surfing is the jewel in Akyaka’s watersport crown, and from 9am until early evening this is evinced by the dozens of soaring canopies looping and diving above the shallow water, towing the surfers over white-crested waves at impressive speeds. But at the adjacent beach, beyond the tightly packed rows of sunbeds, there is windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing available, not to mention excellent swimming conditions.

Behind and around the town, as you climb the grey-block streets, is the expanse of the pine forest, a protected area abundant with such fauna as snakes, lizards, tortoises, and watched from above by eagles, kestrels and other majestic birds of prey. In fact the forests are so well cared for that they warrant their own guardians who can often be seen in their red trucks embellished with the roofrack lights normally reserved for vehicles of the emergency service. They’re a friendly bunch though, only too happy to snap a family photo for us allowing me to obviate the camera’s rather erratic self-timer facility!

Back to the beaches though…As I said these can get very crowded during Turkish summer holiday season, and while blessedly devoid of ‘Brits abroad’ and the intrinsic surfeit of sagging tattooed flesh, you will find yourself literally tripping over row upon row of sunbeds. So head west along the coastal road which winds through the pine trees, affording spectacular views of the bright blue waters of the bay and the forested mountains looming on the far side, and discover your own stretch of white pebble beach down one of the many rocky half-roads leading to the water’s edge and stunning snorkelling conditions. If you fancy something a little more structured, keep going until you hit Akbuk, 30km or so from Akyaka, where you’ll find a scattering of facilities including eateries, public conveniences and showers. The beach doesn’t get too crowded, even in peak season, and the water is glass-clear and calm.

As well as the aforementioned kayaking, windsurfing and kite surfing, Akyaka is a platform for plenty of other enticing activities. Of these surely the optimum for value for money must be one of the daily boat trips along the bay. We booked with ‘Captain’s’ tours, who can be found along the harbour front, and for £40 got the four of us on board an uncrowded, music-free boat which included a fabulous lunch cooked on board. We spent the day lying beneath a tarpaulin on cushions in the shade, revelling in the epitome of relaxation as ‘Captain 1’ stopped at various swimming spots of such beauty as to take the breath away. Cool off by leaping from the top of the boat into the clear water, dive down to underwater caves, watch the brightly coloured fish flit around you, and climb onto the isolated beaches and the uninhabited ‘Rabbit Island’. It’s also an opportunity to visit Sedir Island and check out Cleopatra’s beach, renowned for its fine pale sand. Don’t expect the place to yourself though: it is thronged with voyagers from all over the region, as evidenced by the numerous boats moored up at the island’s marina. The crowds are serviced by a restaurant and public conveniences, and the famed beach itself is literally roped off so that only a thin ribbon of sand is available for bathing. The main appeal of Sedir though is in fact the ancient amphitheatre, a place where you can escape the crowds for some peace and quiet while they jostle for position on the tiny beach.

Don’t worry though – Sedir Island is just a stop off on what is otherwise a truly serene excursion. A friendly crew (including a captain who will give a second version of every commentary in English just for you if you happen to be the only non-Turk aboard!) ensure your tour is as welcoming as it is indulgent.

Eating out in Akyaka is cheap, no two ways about it! A lunch of delicious filled pastries came to less than a tenner for the four of us, and an evening at any of the beachfront restaurants is easily achievable for £10 a head. There’s a catch though. Alcohol (along with petrol) is around the same price as you’ll pay back in the UK, so expect this to impact your bill considerably if you’re after a drink or two.

One culinary experience you should try at least once though is a river restaurant, several of which can be found along the Azmak River which drains into the gulf from the mountains. Vira Vira for one is simply outstanding for its setting and the fresh sea bream is a must, although the red mullett and grouper are by all accounts in a class of their own. Expect to pay more if eating fish, but a whole bream is in the region of £12, and worth every penny.

Speaking of money, if you’re planning a trip to Turkey, at least at the time of writing, you’ll get a much better rate of exchange if you take sterling with you and change it there. I was able to get 3.1 TL to the £ in Turkey versus 2.8 (at best) in the UK. The best place to trade your pounds is at the post office, known as the PTT. There’s one in the middle of Akyaka but be prepared for a wait. There’s only one lady serving (and she didn’t like to engage in banter, despite my best efforts) and every transaction seemed to require at least two phone calls. Feel free to try and get a smile though. Just remember: Iki yüz sterlin bozdurmak istiyorum (look it up!)

Mostly the residents and workers of Akyaka are a friendly and helpful bunch but of course, if you’re visiting their country have the decency to learn at least a few sentences of their language before you go. You’ll get so much more out of your visit.

Outside of Akyaka, Marmaris is a 40 minute drive away. I can’t think of a reason to recommend this place, but just beyond is the slightly (very slightly) toned down Içmeler, and twenty minutes across the mountains is the further diluted Turunç, which is a far better proposition and has all the watersports you could wish for, from parasailing at £25 a head and a host of other white knuckle water activities, all at very reasonable prices. There’s another beach called Çiftlik which also lies across the mountain passes beyond Içmeler and is reputed to be very scenic with just the right dose of commercialism, but be sure to get directions. We never made it that far but by all accounts it’s a bit of a secret treasure.

There’s plenty more to discover around the Datça Peninsula, including a host of historical sites from ancient cisterns to underground tombs – far too much to go into in fact. That’s why this corner of Turkey is best discovered for yourself. If you like a holiday that has a bit of adventure, a bit of excitement, as well as all the usual pastimes you expect from your summer break away, Akyaka and its environs are right up your pine-tree-lined street.


Heist thriller ‘Pursuit’ FREE at Smashwords!

Heist thriller ‘Pursuit’ FREE at Smashwords!

Just use coupon code TX46Z at checkout for your free copy.

Less shameless marketing and more about my trip to the wilds of Mediterranean Turkey coming soon, but in the meantime if you’d like to let me know what you think of ‘Pursuit’ I’d be eternally grateful!


Review of Dirty Deals by D.D. Marks

Review of Dirty Deals by D.D. Marks

Firstly let me say that Dirty Deals is somewhat outside of my normal sphere of reading; a female agent, in the employ of a covert organisation, who will use every ‘asset’ at her disposal to get the job done. However, now that I’ve finished this, the first in the Olesia Anderson series by D.D. Marks, I have to say that said reading sphere needs expanding.

From the outset the magnetic characters, both heroes and villains, are drawn out expertly and I found myself immediately attached to their torments. In fact, I was so drawn to the development of the main players that I didn’t notice the plot sneaking up on me, which in a nutshell comprises some stolen military files and the shadowy identity of the culprits, a mysterious criminal organisation called Zero Error and a host of characters, none of whom are what they seem. There’s a nice little twist in the end but I won’t say anything more on that!

The technical content is very competently handled – there’s all the software (and military hardware) you could want in a novella, but it’s dished out in such a way as to be comprehensive to even the most IT-inept of us (yes, that’s me).

But never mind all that; here is a story that will pick you up from the first line and hold your attention till the last, with some hilarious spikes along the way. In particular the line, ‘Rostam, your ass is mine’, which, taken in context, is a laugh out loud moment (trust me). The protagonist, Olesia Anderson, is compellingly flawed in much the same way as a female James Bond might be (I know, I can see I’m not the first to draw that comparison). And I’m talking about the character in the books, with all the gritty failings and scars, as opposed to the too-cool, suave spy of the silver screen. Some might label Olesia as a whore, a slut, a tramp, but that really is an insult to female fiction characters, because she goes no further in her methods than the aforementioned hero in Ian Fleming’s works. That’s about as far as you can go with the comparisons though: D.D. Marks’s writing is modern, sharp, witty, and, within the bounds of my bookshelf at least, original. If you like techno thrillers, spy thrillers, military conspiracy, shady government stuff, you’ll like Dirty Deals, but to be honest, even if you don’t – you’ll probably still like this book.

I’ll be reading the next instalment very soon!


How I switched from tell to show…

How I switched from tell to show...

I’m in the process of going through my latest manuscript for the two hundred and thirty seventh time, and every time I think I’ve got it just right, I make that fatal mistake of reading over it one last time. Seriously, how bad a writer was I – um, am I? Oh whatever. In any case some of the imagery was so incredibly clumsy and uninspiring that even I wanted to give up and stop reading.

Let me give you an example and how, I hope, I’ve made it just a little more fulfilling to the reader.

Take one:

The last stop on the trail was Rainbow Viewpoint. It was aptly named because standing in front of the waterfall was a big, bright rainbow, created by the sunlight as it refracted off of millions of tiny droplets of water.

It’s only a wedge of descriptive writing, hardly relevant to the plot, but nonetheless it was distinctly ‘told’ and not ‘shown’. Was it possible to create something a little more inspiring? Something that actually prodded an image to the forefront of the mind?

Take two:

The last stop on the trail was Rainbow Viewpoint. And sure enough, rising defiantly from the cauldron of white mists was a bright rainbow, colours sharply defined as the glaring sun struck and refracted off of billions of tiny droplets of water.

There isn’t a huge variation between the two themes, but I found that by being a little freer with my writing, I could escape the insipid grip of exposition.

There we are, short and sweet. More on this theme to follow as it’s a favourite of mine. Any similar experiences gratefully received, absorbed, utilised.

Review of The Stranger by Christ Martin

This is one of those darkly compelling thrillers where, once you’ve reached the end, you start going back over what’s happened to try and marshal the twists and turns. Like so many busy people these days I had only a few brief wedges of time to read The Stranger, but I kept having to go on to the next chapter and the next and the next. The characters are original and engaging, the protagonist, Dillon, not your typical hero but instead a slightly nerdy computer repair man who nevertheless has a degree of cool about him; compounded by a dark secret in his own past. As I said, compelling stuff and well worth a read.

You can download The Stranger here

Help me out – go on…

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart said, “I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.”

Luckily for Mozart, that’s a maxim that served him pretty well during his lifetime, not to mention the 220 odd years and counting that have followed. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we weren’t born into the cloak of genius – whatever our pursuits.

But what does that mean?

It means that, unlike the revered composer, we do need to listen to what people have to say about us because it’s one of the only ways we can improve. I suppose, as an end-goal, we could have the ambition of no longer requiring feedback to better ourselves, since we’ve achieved that zenith of creativity, but really – are we ever going to stop wanting to know what people think?

I’m wandering off-track here though; it doesn’t matter. The point is: we…alright I…need feedback in order to get to where I want to be. Maybe you do too, maybe you don’t, but what I’m asking for here, in my usual round-about manner, is a helping hand.

At the moment I have two ebooks in publication and I’d really like some constructive feedback on them. Or…if it’s de-structive…so be it, I guess that will paint just as vivid a picture. In any case I am more than happy to return the favour if anybody’s interested. If you’re a writer (and logically, most of my followers will be) then great, but if you’re not I still value your opinion.

Just in case I still have anyone’s attention (hello…hello…echo, echo..) you can find my short story conspiracy thriller ‘The Villager’ for free just here: (use promo code SW100 at checkout)

And my full length crime thriller ‘Pursuit’ here:

This one isn’t free but if you like what you see (oh and yes I have edited it and ‘put down the thesaurus’ since some of those reviews went up) let me know and I’ll find a way to get a copy to you.

Like I said, I am more than willing to return the favour, so please do let me know if you’d like something looked at.


Speak a foreign language badly? Then you can master ‘show-don’t-tell’


We currently have a German exchange student staying with us. My son is studying the language and this is the return visit, following his trip to Stuttgart earlier this year. Much to my son’s dismay I have been relishing the prospect of our visitor’s arrival for some time, seeing as it would give me the opportunity to haul out my very rusty German and crank it up.

You see I studied German myself but haven’t spoken more than a few words in the last fifteen years, and I wasn’t fluent even in my hay day, so you can imagine how clunky are my efforts now.

So what does this have to do with the art of showing, not telling, your readers?

Well now, there I was yesterday evening explaining that our shower was broken and that, just for the first night, would he mind taking a bath instead. (If you’re even vaguely interested to know, yes I’m going to remedy that problem today with my equally rusty DIY skills). Anyway, the issue with our shower is that it works, but it leaks a little, and we don’t have a shower curtain because…well because we don’t use the shower. But for the life of me I couldn’t think of how to say ‘shower curtain’ auf Deutsch. I managed the rest of the explanation with aplomb – please don’t use the shower until tomorrow, please take a bath instead (oh and they do say ‘take’ not ‘have’ – little lesson there for me) but I had to hack my way through the foliage of cluttered vocabulary and long-forgotten words in order to forge a path through to some kind of an explanation. In the end I told him that there was nothing to shield the water and that if he took a shower the floor would get wet.

In return for my heroic efforts he reacquainted me with the German for curtain, but something dawned on me: by struggling around the actual words, I had been forced to create a picture. I couldn’t say: ‘We have no shower curtain.’ Instead I had to paint an image of a semi-flooded bathroom and drops of water hurling through the air, unchecked.

And, actually, it doesn’t take a great deal of extended thought to use this method in your writing. Think about it. Next time you find yourself typing: ‘I checked into a cheap motel but I couldn’t use the shower because it didn’t have a shower curtain’, imagine you have forgotten a key word, the object in fact. And before you know it, you’re taking that shower under cold water from rusty pipes, exposed to the draft seeping in through the crack in the wall as well as anyone choosing to walk in to the bathroom. You might need to cajole the image a little, but by leaving out the obvious bits, you can create a nice vivid picture.

So next time you’re trying to show-not-tell, try to forget a few basic words and feel your way around the scene…

Would love to hear anyone else’s tips on this subject!