Review: Confessions of an Undercover Cop

I came across this book because I was lucky enough back in July to meet Ash Cameron at the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival. She was fun, lively and very confident in her presence being there; everything I was not. I was a nervous wreck feeling like a fraud to be in such a place amongst other crime writers who seemed to know what they doing! Ash was however, awesome, and whether it was her natural instinct, a maternal act or those years as a cop lending the experience, she seemed to recognise a lost, nervous little bird and quickly took me under her wing.

So of course when I heard she was an ex-undercover cop and had written such a book, as any crime writer wants that kind of insight, I bought the kindle book and started reading the moment I got home.


Straight to the point! that is how I would describe it. This is not a crime thriller story, this is a real account and in that sense it can get rather emotional when you keep realising you are very much reading about real people and real lives. It’s an autobiography over 15 years of dealing with cases from robberies, fraud, street crime, sex workers and even organised swinging parties. then it really gets gritty as she moved departments into the Child protection and vulnerable persons unit, dealing with people a lot of crime writers wont write about. The kind of people we see on the news and pray our children will never come across. Sadly the most common children who do come across these monsters, as Cameron explains rather heartbreakingly, are their own children.

In these instances she gives them the time they need, but she doesn’t indulge too much and doesn’t detail what she doesn’t have to. Years of dealing with delicate, vulnerable witnesses and victims has clearly provided her with the ability to get to the point she needs to without going over the top or pushing too much into the horrid details of the crime.

She is also very good at informing the reader of what is to come next and that we may wish to skip over it if we’re not sure we want to read and hear about such things.

Back in July I got talking to Ash about the fact we both want to write more about the female criminal, as I have done in once Upon a Set of Wheels and did a little in Judged by your Peers. having dealt with many female criminals, from prostitutes to the type of mother no-one would ever want, she reinforced what i have believed for many years, through studying forensics, talking with members of the CPS and researching historical cases; women are very underestimated in the criminal world, when in fact they can be the worst kind of criminal. We both spoke how we’d like to produce of strong calibre that put the female criminal out there. I feel from reading this that Ash Cameron is not just going to do it, but she’s going to blow us away with it, and I very much look forward to what she’s going to be coming up with in the future.

Find her links here:



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NaNoWriMo Fail!

So, did anyone else totally fail at NaNo this year?


Just me then?

I very much expect not.

I started it, I planned it, I drafted a plot and I even designed a cover.

possible cover



However it seems that November was just a bit too crazy. I managed all of 25000 words, so I got half way, but unfortunately it seems that the craziness of the last few months has had a large impact on my writing. But do I feel bad?


Well yeah actually I do, but not too bad, especially as the main impact on it was the release of the Anthology in which my short story is in and getting great reviews! Also another impact was my family coming to visit us. Being a military family, we move about a bit and we live some distance from our families so most of the time our communication is technology based, so when we actually get to physically see and interact with each other, it’s a big deal. Especially as this visit was my sister bringing my little niece to visit and she, quite frankly, is awesome!

I’m not however giving up.

I hear a lot of people say how they have folders or memory sticks or discs filled with half written stories from Nano, because as soon as it’s finished, they finish.  I use NaNo to write my story down, then I leave it about two months and go back to edit the living daylights out of it and redraft. Some people actually finish and think that because you can self publish you should straight away; you shouldn’t and please don’t, it gives those of us who rip our work apart with blood sweat, stress and editors a bit of heart failure!

My story is actually a story I’ve kind of already written, in part anyway. At  the beginning of the year I entered the Bafta screen writers competition with a crime drama. it didn’t get shortlisted, but it was a story I had already had in mind for a while and when I was writing the scripts I realised the imagery I wanted in it could be written fabulously in a novel format as well as a script. So I set myself the challenge way back in April that I would sort out my other commitments and NaNo would be for to turn The Blame Lies  from a screen play into a novel.

As I said I got about 25000 words, and I’m barely into chapter 6, so it’s going to be a long slog, a long story and then a long process after I’ve written it. But that’s ok right? that’s how a book should be written. We read over and over the best way to get noticed as a writer is to get more books out there. however I feel that sometimes this can involve too much rushing. We all want everything now! I want nothing more than to be a success at this, and to be honest I don’t have a clue about most of it, the marketing etc, but I can write, and I don’t want what I write to be half as good as it could be because I rushed it.

I could’ve gone crazy in the last 5 days of November and hit 50000 word mark, while ignoring my family, friends and general life, but I didn’t. Waiting for something to be right, even if that means taking our time and that is ourselves who keep us waiting, is ok.

The novel I wrote for last years NaNo is still not out, it’s currently with proof readers and a couple of Beta readers, then I’ll make corrections and notes then it’ll go out again for editing. I’m hoping it will be out in the new year, but if I’ve learnt one thing, it’s that this isn’t a quick process and if it is, then it might not be that great.

However please don’t take that negatively, if you succeeded at NaNo and you have in front of you a great story, by all means publish it, but take a time out first. Sit on it for a few weeks, maybe over Christmas then come back to it in the new year and go over it. You’ll see how much editing it needs and then get people to read it and see how readers take to it. Then by all  means take the leap and get it out there.

On the flip side, if you didn’t succeed, like myself, don’t give up just because November’s over! There’s another twelve months before it comes round again, plenty of time to finish that story and get it up to scratch. Take your time and enjoy the way your imagination creates something wonderful that may surprise even you. Most of my stories end up going in completely different directions than I first thought.


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GoodReads Giveaway

Some great wonderful exciting news!
Boughs of Evergreen is a part of a GoodReads giveaway, so if you’ve been meaning to dash on over and grab yourself a copy, why not enter your name and give yourself a chance at winning either Volume 1 or 2 or both!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Boughs of Evergreen by Larry  Benjamin

Boughs of Evergreen

by Larry Benjamin

Giveaway ends November 27, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Goodreads Book Giveaway


Boughs of Evergreen by S.H. Allan


Boughs of Evergreen


by S.H. Allan


Giveaway ends November 27, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.



Enter to win


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Book Release!!!

So tomorrow, November 21st 2014, sees the release of Boughs of Evergreen, a project I have been involved in with Beaten Track Publishing with whom I published Once Upon a Set of Wheels. For your perusal I thought I’d share with you what this wonderful project is all about and how it may not just be a fantastic Christmas gift for someone, or to indulge in yourself, but how it can also help someone who may need it.BoE_533x700-200x300


What is Boughs of Evergreen?

Boughs of Evergreen is an anthology of short stories by the authors currently published by the independent hybrid publisher Beaten Track. All the stories are focussed around a holiday season, mostly Christmas, but others include Hanukah, Thanksgiving and Eid.


What prompted the anthology?

Debbie McGowan, amazing author, editor and publisher at Beaten Track asked all those who have had books published by themselves if they’d like to take part in a holiday anthology offering tales of diversity and hope around a holiday event, focussed towards YA.


How Many People have contributed?

In total 23 authors have contributed and we have managed to create a two-part anthology.


What Diversity is written about?

The main diversity theme written about is LGBT issues, and many of the tales do focus on male relationships, however other differences are seen as well. There is a difference in religious festivals, a difference in race and differences culture, embracing all diversity’s we see in the world today.


What is your contribution?

My contribution is A Good Word: 20’000 word story focussed around the Islamic festival of Eid.



What is the Gist of this story?

In the wake of 9/11 a young Muslim man on the brink of radicalisation and homeless catholic woman may seem like an unlikely pairing, however the paths of Nasir and Mary cross ten years after they knew each other as young children.

Eid and Christmas are falling close together and as they both prepare to celebrate their religious holidays in very different ways, brought together by circumstance they find themselves learning about each others faiths and understanding the pull each has…but can Mary save Nasir from a life of radicalisation, and will Nasir extend Mary any sort of kindness as she tries to pull back her life; even just to ‘utter a good word’ .


What gave you the idea for this?

I actually came up with this story when I was 14, but it was a lot different back then and very much focussed on a very ‘black and white’ idea of racism. As I have grown up the world has changed many things have happened. As a result, when I came to think about this story 18 years later I realised it had evolved from it’s original prejudice. What it has evolved into is something I do feel very close to and very passionate about now.


You said this also helped others?

Well yes, not only are all the tales ones of hope and looking to the future, all the authors have agreed to forego any profit and donate all proceeds to the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization [USA] providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. For more information, visit:



What are the other contributions?

Volume One

“A Friend for Christmas” – JP Walker
“A Midnight Clear” Debbie McGowan
“From All of Us to All of You” – Ofelia Gränd

Find Ofelia on her websiteInstagram (@ofelia.grand), FacebookFacebook Author Page, Goodreads,Google+, and sign up for her mailing list


“Homme for the Holidays” Jonathan Penn

Find Jonathan on his blogAmazonTwitterFacebook, and Google+

“Kiss Me At Kwanzaa” LL Bucknor
Find LL on Twitter
“Lion’s Hero” Alexis Woods
Find Alexis on FacebookGoodreads, and Google+
“One Nightstand” Rick Bettencourt
Find Rick on his websiteTwitterFacebookMailing List, and Media Kit
“Shiny Things” Amy Spector
Find Amy on her website and blog and Twitter

“The Bard and his Boyfriend” Kathleen Hayes

“The Christmas Present” Larry Benjamin

Find Larry on his websiteblogTwitter, and Facebook

“The Invasion of Tork” Al Stewart and Claire Davis
“X-Mas Cake: A Modern Fairytale” Raine O’Tierney

Volume Two

“A Christmas Tale” Hans M Hirschi

Find Hans on his websiteblogFacebook, and Twitter

“A Family Christmas” Terry Kerr
“A Good Word” L.M. Steel
“A Little Christmas Magic” K.C. Faelan
Find K.C. on her blogGoodreads, and Twitter
“Always Have, Always Will” Amelia Mann
“An Angel in Eyeliner” Hunter Frost
Find Hunter on her websiteTwitterFacebook, and Goodreads
“Boyfriend Goes Home” Laura Susan Johnson
Find Laura on her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Google+
“Christmas Commitment” Shayla Mist
Find Shayla on BlogspotWordPressGoodreads, and Facebook
“Coming in from the Cold” Ava Penn
“Holidays with Drum and Bell!” Matthias Williamson
“Te Amo, You Mushrooms” S.H. Allan


So where can we find it?

Beaten Track Publishing!

Preorder now!

Volume One [Paperback – £9.99/$15.99]

Volume Two [Paperback – £9.99/$15.99]

Volume One [Kindle Edition]

Volume One [Kindle Edition] Amazon UK [Kindle Edition]

Volume Two [Kindle Edition]

Volume Two [Kindle Edition] Amazon UK

Combined Edition [Kindle Edition]

Combined Edition [Kindle Edition] Amazon UK



Each story will also be published individually as an ebook throughout the month of December, 2014.


Like Beaten Track Publishing on Facebook

Like Boughs of Evergreen on Facebook


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The Footpath: A Halloween Tale!

The sound of leaves dried and withered crunching under foot was the only sound that he could hear on the deserted path. The footfalls that crushed them made no other sound as they seemed to land without thud on the dusty path between the playground and the houses in the distance. Why were they so distant? They had never been that far away before. They were just round the corner from the playing fields along the small footpath flanked by the withering autumn trees. Now on the path, they seemed as though they were far off in the horizon. They had moved, miles and miles away and between here and there was a long, dark winding path flanked by the shadows of dead withered trees casting ghostly claws from twisted and torn, bare leafless branches. Before her was the longest path her had ever seen, disturbing, frighteningly and confusingly long and behind him someone or thing, trod and crunched the dead autumn leaves as they stepped ever closer.

A hoot she heard off in the distance as a small breeze gently moved the warped, twisted branches over head causing the shadows cast on the ground by the crescent moon to look as though they were sharp jagged claws beginning to crawl towards him. Still the sound of crunching, scrunching, rustling dead foliage moved closer behind her.

The Footpath

Bang, bang, bang was the loudest sound of all now as her heart pounded against her rib cage like the mallet of a marching base drum. A bark of a dog and a howl which made this small estate seem like a wild forest just as the breeze whistled longer and harder into a wind and brought over the crescent moon thick, black clouds that began to cry down upon the long winding, dusty path that seemed to never end. The heavy, fat rain drops lashing down on the ground joining the rhythm of her base drum heart like an accompaniment of marching snares and soaking through the dead leaves hence muffling the only sound of the footfalls behind her. The wind blew round and round, swirling the waterfall of rain around her like a cyclone and then found it’s direction down the path, pushing against her hard a fierce like a hundred wet, powerful hands pushing her back down the never ending path. She pushed and she pushed as the sense that who, or what was behind her was now closer and closer still even though she could no longer hear anything. A crash, a rumble and bang as violent angry thunder boomed over head and shook the very ground she tried to run along. A streak, a bolt, a flash across the violent sky lit up everything around her and showed her for certain the large, terrifying shadow that loomed closer and closer behind her and yet still the end of the path seemed to never get closer. She pushed and she fought against weather, against nature and surely, surely she could finally see the lamp post at the end of the footpath that would open up into the street of houses all lit up on this cold, wet, stormy autumn night. Her arms in marching force, her legs pushing with all her might as the wind pushed hard and faster the torrent of rain that was surely all the sky could possibly hold, all against soaking her jeans, her trainers, her coat through to her shirt and her skin. Her long blonde hair flew behind her in long wet strands like old jagged fingers trying to pull her back. Finally she could almost touch and she reached out against the storm to wrap her desperate fingers around the lamp post so she had finally left the terrifying path.

Strong, heavy, powerful fingers landed firm and frightening on her left shoulder and then pulled her back with effortless force.


She awoke, gasped and sat bolt upright in the bed and panted hard and fast and shook all over. The rain pelted like a snare drum on her window and her heart beat like marching base drum against her chest and she could hear the howling pipes of the wind as it blew around the street outside. The dream lingered and the clammy, heavy pull of the hand on her shoulder felt as it was still grasping her tightly. She rose uncertainly, unsteady, shaking. Desperately she tried to compose herself and step out of the nightmare…it was just a nightmare. Still she reached trembling fingers for the curtains to look out at the street outside, to look over to the lamp post on the side of her road at the mouth of the small footpath that led down to the playing fields. Holding her breath she gently pulled one curtain slowly and gently to the side to look out…and she screamed!

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Everyone Has A cause

On Sunday we got up at the break of dawn, scoffed down potato sandwich’s to ensure we were fully carb loaded, pulled on our spandex, tied our laces and headed off to SouthSea for the Bupa 25th Annual Great South Run.

We smashed it people! I ran all the way side by side with my beautiful wife and we got in with a very respectable time:

Proof I did it!

Proof I did it!

I did post a couple of weeks ago to say I was doing it and to share my just giving page, thank you if you supported. As you’ll remember I was running to raise money for Cancer Research UK and my darling wife was running for Macmillan Cancer care; two incredibly dear charities to us and we said we were running in memory of my dad who passed away just last year. sadly however we were running for so many more; my grandparents, my wife’s grandparents, her aunty…the list goes on. A dear friend of mine who died in 2001 was just 26 when he lost his life to the terrible disease and left behind three children under 6. Cancer charities hold a place in my heart and sadly the reasons why seem to grown every passing year.

Our Chosen charities Side by side

Our Chosen charities Side by side

As I lined up ready to run on this last breezy Sunday morning I looked around and saw quite clearly I’m not the only who feels like that, the t-shirts were like a sea of determination against adversary out there, from disease to crime, poverty and cruelty, ignorance and heartache, everyone around me had something they were running for.


I spent ten adrenaline pumping, muscle burning miles reading the t-shirts and the signs pinned to them stating why that person was running; they were raising money, they were raising awareness, they were running in hope and sadly some in remembrance:


Don’t forget The Alzheimers society: in memory of my lovely dad.

brought a tear to my eye as I thought of my dear uncle who suffered from the horrible condition.

Born Free: no Animal should be inprisoned

I couldn’t agree more as I ran and thought of all the animals who can’t because they’re locked up

Dogs Trust: For the best friend I ever had!

I can completely understand that sentiment.

Help for Heroes: for every soldier who needs a hand

I guess they just knew so many after 13 years of war!

The list was endless:

Brain Tumour Research

Diabetes UK

MS Society



Clic Sargent- for children with cancer

The Stroke Association


Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research

British Heart Foundation

Guide Dogs

Orangutan Appeal Uk


Naomi House Childrens Hospice Ltd

The Rowans Hospice

Chestnut Tree House

Seafarers UK

The Raf Association

Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity

A Smile for a Child

Dreams Come True



The Rose Road Association

The Honeypot Children’s Charity

That just names a handful, there were just so many, and nearly all were accompanied by pictures or names in whose name or memory they were taking on this challenge.

It was heartbreaking and warming all in one.

The fact that there are so many desperate causes out there is sometimes enough to make you wonder what the point is sometimes. There’s much to fight against, there’s so much pain and heartache. Then I took another look around. 25000 people were running; many clearly not anywhere near athletic and yet they were trying, and they were pushing and they were giving it all they had to raise money, hope or awareness for there cause. 25000 people descended upon Portsmouth to shout that they weren’t willing to give up on their fight, they were gonna do what ever they could, they were gonna run 10  miles when most of them have probably barely walked more than three, so that they could do something, they could contribute in someway to their cause.


Everyone has a fight! Everyone has a cause they believe in. That was the real warmth I took away from Sunday…along with my burning thighs!

If you would still like to contribute to cancer research my just giving page is here:


But if you have your own cause, something you’re passionate about, why not share and let us know why.

While you do that, I feel I have earned this!

Well Earned!

Well Earned!

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Meet The Character Blog Hop

So I’ve been tagged in  “Meet the Character” Blog Hop by Matthias Williamson. I’ve decided to use the my Short Story: A Good Word which will feature in beaten Tracks Holiday Anthology Boughs of Evergreen.

Let me thank Matthias and introduce to him as well:


 Matthias Williamson has always had characters in his head. There were times when he was little when he couldn’t go to sleep because there was too much talking going on. He finally stopped one day and started writing what the characters were saying, and stories emerged. Finally, he’s finishing the stories.


Matthias story Drum and Bell will also be featuring in the Holiday Anthology and as it’s own stand alone short story. Check out his site and his story.






Who Is Nasir Mahmood?

Nasir is a young man in his final year of his A Levels looking to apply to a university to study Islamic Politics.


Where does A Good Word take place?

A Good Word takes place in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield in the winter of 2001, leading up to both Eid and Christmas of that year. Mainly in and around an Asian Restaurant and a Homeless Soup Kitchen


What wont Nasir talk about?

Where he goes in Bradford when he’s supposed to be studying. He’s been going to meetings led by a New Imam who holds intense meetings for young impressionable Muslims. He also doesn’t like to talk about what everyone seems to know, but no-one talks about in his own family…his Uncle Raj


What are Nasir’s Goals

His main goal above everything else is to be a good Muslim. His ambition is to be devout and serve his people and his faith in the best way he can.


What is the problem?

He doesn’t really know how . He thinks to be a good Muslim is to follow the teachings of the extreme Imam as his family all seem to be too accepting and allowing of westerners and their traditions and lifestyles. He feels none of them are as devout as they should be, but then Mary, a catholic Lesbian  comes into his life and throws everything’s he’s been studying into further turmoil as she starts to teach him about his own faith.


To see who else is on the Blog hop look no further than the anthology itself:

debbiemcgowanDebbie McGowan is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven fiction, covering life, love, relationships – the whole shazam. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at seventeen, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At twenty-five, she went back to college to study social science – tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can!

Debbie’s addition to Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology(November 2014) is A Midnight Clear.midnight_clear_boe_533x800-199x300

It’s a cold, desperate December when a young girl flees home, in search of food, shelter and the real Santa Claus. Stranded in George and Josh’s hometown, she discovers that the spirit of Christmas can be found in the most unexpected of places. Includes the story of The Little Match Girl, by Hans Christian Andersen.

You can find Debbie on any of the following social media sites:




Ofelia Gränd


Ofelia Gränd is Swedish through and through. She is constantly thinking of stories she would love to write. Anything and everything is a source of inspiration that has her lost in thought, staring off into space, in no time at all. Sometimes she turns a street corner, and sees a different world. She is often walking around mumbling to herself and her intended characters. Every so often she is painting mental pictures of their appearances, or wishing that she was better at Photoshop, because she knows exactly what the cover of the story in her mind should look like. Real life, however, interferes all too often, and the stories mostly remains unwritten.

In real life, Ofelia is living with her husband and their three children in a small town on the southwestern Swedish coast. When she isn’t a stay-at-home mom, she is teaching Swedish and Swedish as a second language to teenagers and adults. She has been thinking about teaching English, but since she isn’t fluent in the language, she is sticking to the one she knows well. Therefore, she, more than anyone, is a bit perplexed about why she thought it would be a good idea to try to write in English. But, she’ll probably come to her senses – sometime.OfeliaGrand_FAoUtAoY

Meet Simon:


The individual stories of the anthology will be published as ebooks on December 1st 2014. Boughs of Evergreen will be published November 21st 2014.


Beaten Track Shop (Preorder)
Volume One:…
Volume Two:…





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