Early writings to the eBook explosion

I suppose, from the first book I ever read I knew I wanted to write. I cannot remember that first book, but it doesn’t matter. The written word, and storytelling, stretched out in front of me.

My initial effort began at the age of eight in an old exercise book. You probably know the kind. They invariably displayed the times tables and other information on the back. My first story was one that I entitled ‘Murderous Home.’ The story involved just three characters. A greedy nephew with the belief his miserly uncle had buried his money under the floorboards, thus killing him for it, and burying the uncle under the floorboards. Plus a detective, in the wake of neighbours being alerted by the smell, arrested the nephew for murder. Looking back on this childish offering, there was something rather Poe-ish about it, reminiscent of The Tell Tale Heart.

As an only-child I suppose books were both my companions and my baby sitters. My mother could quite comfortably leave me in a store to browse the books, while she did her shopping. When she returned she would find me in the same place. In those days Woolworths had big dumper baskets dotted about the store, containing various items.

As a child I quickly grew out of fairy tales, unless of course they contained an evil villainous character. After Christmas my parents took me to the local pantomime where I had my initial sighting of a wonderful character called the Demon King. As his name suggests he was a devilish, evil and grotesque individual. And I loved him. I can’t recollect exactly in which pantomime he appeared, but when he was made conspicuous by his absence the following year I vowed never to go to another panto unless he was in it. So I never did. I was only about five or six.

Even then I loved villains. From the age of twelve I devoured crime novels with relish. My uncle used to procure several of the old Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler novels from the nearby American airbase. I was hooked and couldn’t get enough of the tough talking, gun toting gumshoe detective. ‘The snazzy blonde eased into my office. Rosebud lips screaming scarlet before she opened her mouth.’ That kind of thing. I think, to this day, those books made such an impression on me, I tend to write that way sometimes. In fact I was actually told by a reviewer that my books reminded them of the old Fifties gumshoe tales. Until a few years ago I only wrote for my family. My aunt mostly.

Like myself she devoured books, even reading them at the meal table. She would often ask if I had a book she could read. ‘And I don’t mean the ones you buy in a shop,’ she said.

It was my family who encouraged me to try and get my work published and send my books into the big wide world. What if no one liked them? But I did undertake such a venture.

It wasn’t long before an agent was interested. Having sent the preliminary three chapters, plus synopsis and enquiry letter, he was adamant he would be able to place the work before a publisher. In hindsight perhaps I should have agreed to his terms, but he wanted to change so much of the story, particularly the conclusion, which I loved and had spent such time working on. How foolish I was to allow stupid pride to blind me. I was upset, and told him so in a letter. He too was upset because he suggested offering me help free of charge, to get my book into shape, that my writing had such potential as did my story. Although I have published several books online, my interest continues to lie in pursuing the ultimate goal. The bricks and mortar book shop.

Since I first published my novel All Of them Vampires! in 2011, the self publishing world seems to have exploded. In 2011, self-pub had taken off, but not to the extent it has now. I published another book, one that had been lying in my garage forever, ‘Staying Out’. After a shaky start, but gaining some publicity for my books, ‘Vampires’ practically flew off the virtual bookstores, as did ‘Staying Out’. I was voted third favourite author on Smashwords. This was the days before reviews were compulsory. As long as my books were selling, reviews meant precious little.

To conclude on a puzzle and the subject of reviews. I’ve noticed on Amazon that authors with 20-plus reviews do not appear to be, according to the B.S.R. selling many books. While authors with few reviews are always selling books. Last year on its release, my novel, ‘Progeny Of A Killer’ was flying off the shelves. How many reviews did it have? Two.

You can buy all my books at Amazon, including The Aidan McRaney Trilogy: ‘Stalking Aidan’, ‘The Devil in Soho’ and ‘Progeny Of A Killer’. Hope you have enjoyed my ranting. Please leave a like on Facebook or an RT on Twitter.

Bless you all.

Behind the Mask. How my research for ‘Progeny Of A Killer’ took me to jail.

progeny of a killerThe sentence wasn’t lengthy, merely a couple of hours, although I wish it had been longer. I would have loved to have spent the night. I have never visited such a place that held so much sorrow and tragedy as Dublin’s Kilmainham gaol. I knew I wanted to include it in my novel. In Progeny Of A Killer, Danny Corrigan is the son of a deceased IRA man who vows revenge on the British refers to the gaol to Aidan McRaney – who is also Irish – as McRaney is sent into to infiltrate Corrigan’s lair.

“You ever see the solitary black cross in Kilmainham?”

“Sure I saw it. When I was a kid. But I didn’t understand. I just didn’t understand.”

I had to admit the memory of visiting Kilmainham, of seeing the black cross over the solitary mound, had given me nightmares. It was the fear that those long dead heroes would ultimately rise from the mound and amorphously drift into my room at night.

Corrigan is obsessed with the Uprising, and their leader James Connolly in particular. It is historical fact that after being wounded in the leg, Connolly was taken by ambulance to Kilmainham, where he was tied to a chair and executed.

But the saddest tale of all has to be that of Grace Gifford who married Joseph Plunkett, another of the  rebels. Their wedding night took place in the chapel at Kilmainham. The next morning, Joseph faced a firing squad. Although the chapel has been refurbished, there is no disguising the poignancy and desolation of that place.

The visit made a great impression on me. I could easily imagine Joseph and Grace, knowing the only night they shared was to be their last, taking their vows. Then they would spend their wedding night in one of those narrow dingy cells. No amount of refurbishment can eradicate that. The entire building is steeped in sorrow and bloodshed.

Having researched Irish history quite predominantly over the years, I knew a story had to be written. Perhaps the aftermath of the Troubles. How many others like Corrigan entertain the desire for revenge? Except I am sure no one is as obsessed with Irish history as this man. Enough to exact his vengeance, not by bombs and doorstep assassinations, but by kidnapping children and inviting paedophilia and white slave trafficking,

Corrigan is also  a collector of porn and of  children being  tortured. He also collects beautiful girls of a certain age for his brothel. The girls are usually no more than 15 or 16. He has ‘buyers’ and the girls are sold to them.

I had already planned my novel. The characterisation. The plot. Then I visited Kilmainham saw the black cross and knew it deserved a mention, as does the Easter Uprising. As it is its centenary next year, maybe I’ll pen another book in relevance.

WIN Gritty Thriller ‘Progeny Of A Killer’!

Progeny Of A Killer JM Shorney Contest

 The violence is meticulously detailed.

Fast-paced writing, great story, flawed but interesting protagonist, and a vile and repellent villain.

Progeny of a Killer is a gripping thriller that will keep the reader in suspense until the last page.

Those are just a drop in the ocean of reviews made about Progeny Of A  Killer, an edgy story that enmeshes London’s underworld with the machinations of a madman obsessed with a brutal history.

Now you can win Progeny Of A Killer from Goodreads!

What Can Rave Reviews Book Club Do for you?

Since becoming an Author/ Member of Rave Reviews Book Club, I have met some really fabulous people. Although they reside in many different countries, I have begun to regard them as friends. Enough to know them by their names, and, even without the RRBC hashtag on Twitter I support them by retweeting often.

Suffice to say I have only been on RRBC for a matter of weeks. Already I have become Member Of The Week, and have journeyed on an amazing Blog Tour, for which 4 Wills Publishing did a fantastic job. The  lovely members who were pleased to host the blog posts I’d written  were so supportive.

The first time I had ever done a Blog Tour I was quite ignorant of everything it entailed.  I wrote the blogs, and 4 Wills did the rest. I was amazed and delighted with the incredible support I was given.

Supporting each other is what it’s all about. Let’s face it,  we Indie folk do need help, advice and assistance in this ‘needle in a haystack’ world of Self Publishing, where it’s so easy to become a lone voice that no one listens to. We’ve all been there. I know I have. Mood swings don’t cover it. The highs, the  lows riding  the literary rollercoaster. The excitement when we make a few sales. The despondency when we don’t.

But receiving support doesn’t mean accepting without giving. As I am getting to know other members (I love to tweet) I  check out their books on Amazon and promote them.

Though I think for me, one of the  most enjoyable ways to support, meet and have a laugh at the same time, is through Chatovod. I do try to ‘sit in’ on these online chats as often as I can. It is only if I’m out or at work that I’m not able  to attend them.

We get to meet Nonnie for a start. Our founder lady, whose brainchild has been invaluable help to Independent authors. Plus the other members who are so incredibly down to earth, and have such a great sense of humour.  I  have also  been quite moved by some of the poignant true life conflicts behind our author’s writings.  You only know this when you sit in on the Chatavods.

At the conclusion of my Blog Tour I was privileged to meet these lovely people during my own Chatavod,  who shared such support for my work and downloaded  my books.

Rave Reviews Book Club unveils the Independent Authors books that we wouldn’t know existed otherwise. So many varied genres to choose from.  So many  lovely Author/ Members to get to know…

‘Bad Boys’ Blog Tour

This week I’ll be appearing on a few blogs that have kindly agreed to allow me to post. The theme is the Bad Boys Blog Tour.

What is it that we of the female species love about the Bad Boys? The Rebel Without a Cause James Deans  of this world. Leather jacketed Marlon Brando, brooding and sexy in the crime/boxing thriller, On The Waterfront never fails to set feminine pulses racing.

The first post is a short story called The Tainted Dress, which is based on a true story. Today’s is a blog post of Interviews of characters from Progeny of a KillerInterviewing my own creations was incredibly fun to do. I hope you enjoy both of these, and the other posts coming up in the next few days, as well as an exciting Q&A I’ve got lined up!

The Safe: Part Eight

The guilt set in as soon as I returned home and got into bed. Who else had I to turn to but myself? To exact a kind of justice for Mama. Sheriff Anderson was of no use. Would he only come to our aid if Mama was dead? That eventuality was beginning to loom larger everyday. I had discovered something from old Alfie Tressler prior to the robbery. Trenchard’s first wife had fallen down the stairs while pregnant. Rumour circulated in Chattanooga, where he had lived before. Trenchard, in a fit of anger and drunkenness, had pushed her. His wealth and status had succeeded in acquitting him when the finger of suspicion had travelled in his direction. How long before the same happened to Mama? With the money we could get out. The trouble was I had had to commit a crime to exact that justice.

The house was quiet, and I knew Trenchard had gone to bed. I lay awake, my heart beating erratically when I considered the night’s events. I hoped that Billy was wrong in his assumption that Alfie might have  set us up for his own ends. I’d stuffed my share of the cash into a drawer. All two and a half thousand dollars of it. Mama had a sister in Huntsville. Maybe we could go there, out of his clutches, and Mama could have her op.

When the strident raps on the outer door issued, a crazy sense of lightheadedness  washed over me. I couldn’t sleep, so I was up, listening at my door. I heard Trenchard curse and warn Mama to stay there. “Who in God’s name is it at this time of the night? Disturbing decent folks peace.”

Cracking  the door ajar, I watched him fasten the belt of his robe.

The anxiety increased when I heard Mort Anderson’s voice, followed by Trenchard inviting him into the hallway. From there I had a clear view.

“What is it, Mort?” Trenchard demanded. “Has something happened at the bank?”

‘”I think there might have been a robbery, Ike.”

“What do you mean, ‘think’? Well, has there been a robbery or not? I’m in no damned mood for guessing games at this time of night.”

“I was doing my rounds and I saw a light in your office. The door was unlocked. I found old Alfie Tressler bound and gagged.”

“What?” Trenchard spluttered. He held his chest as if he were about to collapse. “What… what did Alfie say?”

“He wasn’t saying much. First off, he reckoned that his eyes ain’t what they was. He couldn’t see what they was doing, or what was stolen.  Only that they was masked. He didn’t even know how many of ’em they’re were. The poor old boy is practically blind.”

“Only when it suits him.” Trenchard bunched a fist. “It must have been my safe.” He spoke as if to himself.

‘Good old Alfie, I knew you wouldn’t let us down,’ I thought with a smile.

It was a smile that was short-lived however, when Anderson said, “I do have a witness though.”

A witness? But I had seen no one.

“Yeah. Seems they saw a coupla guys run across the street from the bank and get into Billy Parker’s pick-up.”

Momentarily Trenchard said nothing, but I saw his leaned-out frame visibly stiffen. Both fists clench against his robe.

“Did you hear what I said, Ike? You okay?”

“Yes I heard.”

“Look, I’ll go and talk to Parker. I ain’t saying it was Billy. Someone might have stolen his vehicle. Though he ain’t reported it missing.”

“And he won’t either.”  Trenchard’s face was now  an angry mass of vengeance.

“You want to get dressed and come to your office, Ike? Ike?”

“Later. I have something to deal with first. You go ahead. I’ll join you.”

“I can wait. I got the car outside. What you gonna do?”

“I said wait outside,” Trenchard hissed. “Remember who elected you, Sheriff. You answer to me.”

“Look, Ike, I ain’t called that in…” Anderson had removed his hat. Now he twirled it in his hand nervously.

So Trenchard was responsible for pulling Mort Anderson’s strings too, but I was in far too much trouble to even dwell on that fact.

“What’s goin’ on, Luke?” Johnny appeared from his room, rubbing at his eyes.

“Get back into your room, and stay there,” I hissed at him. The last thing I needed was for him to witness whatever might occur. I repeated the order at his hesitation and he dived back into his room.

He wasn’t the only one. I closed the door, and hoped to make it back to bed. I had undressed and was wearing my pyjamas. For a man of Ike Trenchard’s years, he bounded up the stairs pretty agilely and burst into my room before I could prevent him.

“What is it, Ike?” I pretended nonchalance, but the cold grey eyes that bore into mine were filled with an hatred I had never occasioned to ever witness on a human being. If that’s what he was.

“Don’t play the innocent with me, boy. I know it was you and that Parker kid that broke into my office. Masking your faces like a coupla hoodlums. The old man musta told you about the safe. How much did you take?”

“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I protested, when pushing me back onto the bed, he towered above me. ” I…I don’t know nothin’ about no safe.”

His robe slipped open, revealing his sinuous frame. His breathing issued raspy and dry. A bony hand shot out and his fingers wrapped around my neck, I knew in that terrible moment of realisation, that he intended to kill me. “I always knew you was a bad ‘un. Beyond hope now.”

I was aware that his free hand had also  grabbed the guitar that rested against my night cabinet.

” Wh-what you gonna do with that?” I thought, please, not that

“How much money did you take from my safe?”

“I…told you I didn’t…”

“Wrong answer, boy.” He released the stranglehold on my windpipe. My throat was sore, and I was gasping for breath  when raising the guitar above his head, I knew what he was going to do.

“Okay, okay, it… it was me,” I gasped.

“What you doing to my son?” Mama burst into the room. My brother, white and scared, trembled  behind her.  “Leave him alone. If he says he didn’t steal any money…”

She attempted to wrest the guitar she knew I loved so much from his grasp when Trenchard, flinging out an arm, hurled her so belligerently against a sideboard, that both Johnny and I screamed her name. Relief shot through me when she roused herself, and my brother helped her to rise.

It all came out then. Why I had stolen the money.

Mama stared, half collapsing against Johnny, with disbelief.

“This is the man who foreclosed on our farm, Mama. On other folks farms so he could steal their money.”

“Oh you’d say anything wouldn’t you, boy? Because I’m gonna see you sent down for ten.” His thin lips twisted ugly around the words. “What will your precious Mama and that snivelling brother do if you ain’t around? I can do it too. I practically own this town.”

“You’re a bad man, Isaac Trenchard.” Mama stood there, her hair dishevelled and greying before her time. “My son doesn’t have a criminal bone in his body. It’s what you’ve driven him to. There was no one else who would help me, because they were all so scared of you. All the folk around town.”

“Yeah, you’re such a goddamned big shot in this town ain’t you, Trenchard?” I taunted. The stinging blow he cracked across my face was expected. Though I held a hand to my cheek, I continued to hold my ground. “Such a big man that you kicked a little dog, then shot him in the head for good measure.”

“You bastard! You bastard!” Johnny was crying, about to charge into Trenchard until Mama restrained him. He buried his head in her nightie, her arms coming around him.

“That damned critter was always whinin’.”

“And my sister? She had the courage to stand up to you and you killed her baby.”

” Wh-what’s that gotta do with me?” Guilty colour flowered Trenchard’s face but he continued to maintain that it wasn’t his fault.

“Lorrie lost her baby?” Mama echoed in a trembling voice.

“Yes, Mama, the night he pushed her out of the chair. Billy told me.”

I really believed Mama was about to pass out, for she teetered, and almost fell against the door. Then recovering her composure, dragging Johnny with her, she  exited the room.

“Now it’s just you and me, boy,” Trenchard sneered. “You can tell me why you’ve been doing these wicked things.”

” For Mama. Because I figured I needed some kind of… of justice for what you’ve done to her.” I allowed my words to falter, when Mama appeared again. Gripped in both hands was the double barrelled shotgun Trenchard kept in their bedroom. Before he managed to turn around, Mama fired. Trenchard was catapulted back against the wall with a surprised expression on his face when he dropped onto the bed, blood flowering up through his robe a river of crimson.

“What’s going on? I thought I heard a shot.” Sheriff Anderson burst into the room. In the aftermath of the shotgun’s reverberation, a terrible, infinite silence reigned. My pyjamas were splashed with Trenchard’s blood. Johnny was crying quietly. Only Mama was strangely calm when she held her hands outstretched to Anderson for him to cuff her.