Am I now an ‘ex-author’?

I haven’t written much for over a year.

I’ve tinkered with my seemingly Sisiphean task of turning the three volumes of the Iniquities Trilogy into one for over a year and I’ve mapped out the plot for two new books but I’ve always managed to find something else to do rather than sit down and write them.

I’ve done a great many jigsaws – 3000 pieces takes me, usually, about three weeks, I’ve spent many, many hours doing Kakuros and Sudokus, I’ve spent hours tending my collection of houseplants (Tradescantia, Schlumbergera and Epiphilums as well as avocado plants such as this one that seem to just grow and grow), I’ve watched a lot of cricket on television – I’ve even done some housework.

After 20 years of having to make time to type my fiction I’m finding anything to stop me having to face bringing those current writing projects to fruition. It’s not writers’ block – the ideas are swimming around in my head all the time – it’s just that I can’t bring myself to put those ideas into words and commit them to the screen.

Instead of saying ‘I write books’ when asked what I do with my time now I’m retired should I now say ‘I used to write books’?

The End

They say ‘if you want something done ask a busy person’. I have no idea who ‘they’ are (or were) but I believe there is an element of truth in the saying.

Since I retired nine months ago from the business I had run since 1983 I cannot say that I have been ‘busy’. I’ve had ‘stuff to do’ but, although important and sometimes time sensitive, I cannot say any of it has made me ‘busy’.

Yet when I was really busy, when I had eight or ten hours of real work to do every day, I always managed to find time to write. Perhaps I did less housework, perhaps I neglected keeping in touch with family and friends, perhaps I never dead headed the roses, but I always found time to write – at times in the past fourteen years I published a title every eighteen months or so. But what have I written since I retired, since I stopped being ‘busy’? Zilch. Nada. Rien. Nothing. Not one single word. Despite having completed more jigsaws and crosswords and Kakuros and Sudokus than I care to think about I have written nothing. Perhaps I need to get busy again. 

Perhaps I need to get busy again…Or maybe I won’t bother. I’m sure the world can live without yet another of my books.

For the time being anyway there will be more of these…

How to buy books – an Indie author’s lament

BookshopHere we are – three weeks and a couple of days to Christmas, and thoughts turn (if they haven’t already) to thoughts of presents. And what is a better present for anyone from a few months to many, many years old than a book (or books!).
So – where are you going to spend your money?
The quick way is to go on-line and order the book you saw on the television, or the book most advertised, or the book featuring a favourite ‘star’, or a book written by a footballer’s wife’s hairdresser’s boyfriend? Or a book that that on-line bookseller wants you to buy?
A far more satisfying way is to visit a bookshop. There you will find books you may not otherwise come across. There you can ask a (usually) well-informed assistant for advice. There you can touch, browse more than the first few pages, get a real feel for a book. But even bookshops have their own agendas. They push you towards the books they want you to buy (usually stacked high just inside the door), the books that the publishers have ‘encouraged’ them to market prominently.
So how do you get to know about (and buy) an independent author’s books?
They are unlikely to be featured on online booksellers – though they’re there when you look for them. They may not even be stocked in many bookshops (apart from the ones the authors have personally visited).
So you probably won’t know about them and you probably won’t buy them.
So the best sellers lists will again be occupied by the usual suspects – the most advertised titles, the ‘autobiographies’ of ‘celebrities’ and the badly written sadomasochistic tomes with the word ‘grey’ in the title.
PS. To buy any one of my books visit and buy directly from me (paying by Paypal); or visit my publishers’ websites or  or visit a bookshop and ask them to order them or, if you really have to, visit the behemoth online bookseller and search for Carolyn McCrae.

The Glorious First of June

Glorious First of JuneIt is one of the small annoyances of life that some people expect the weather to be ‘glorious’ on the First of June. It certainly hasn’t been today, but still some commentators, phone-in merchants and pub-chatterers bemoan the fact that the sun is not shining brightly and the skies wall-to-wall blue – just because it is the first day of (meteorological) summer.

The Glorious First of June was a sea battle known by its date rather than where it took place because it wasn’t fought near anywhere – actually in the Atlantic Ocean 400 km west of Brittany. It is known in France as the Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 because it was fought on the thirteenth day of the month prairial in the second year of the Republican Calendar. (See an earlier blog).

It was the first Naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars. The British and the French fleets were of similar strength (25 British and 26 French ships of the line) and the French were defeated in terms of ships lost and casualties sustained. The British did not, however, succeed in their main aim – which was to prevent a convoy of ships carrying grain to famine hit France. So it was a British tactical victory and a French strategic one.

Nothing – whatsoever – to do with the weather.

Politicians and Spooks

Bee HiveNow that election is all over I can mention politicians, a group of people who play important, if sometimes secondary, roles in my books. From Arnold Donaldson in The Last Dance to Sir Arthur Lacey in A Set of Lies via Tim Johnstone in Her Parents’ Daughter none of them are particularly likeable characters. No, delete ‘particularly’, there is little to be said for any of them other than that they were ambitious and hungry for political power (especially Sir Arthur).

My spooks tend to be much more sympathetic.

Sir Bernard Lacey (A Set of Lies), Richard Mackenzie (Her Parents’ Daughter) and David Redhead (Walking Alone and Runaways) are particularly nice (if ambiguously painted) people – well, at least, I like them.

And the ones you cannot be sure of (could what they did be called espionage?) are people whose motives are generally good. Elizabeth and Jane (Her Parents’ Daughter) may just have been caught up in the lives of those close to them; Max Fischer, the central character in all three volumes of The Iniquities Trilogy, may just have been a man of his time (the 1930s) in his place (middle Europe).

I have lived with some of these characters for getting on for fifteen years and have got to know them well. Carl Witherby, for example (he is an academic neither a politician nor a spook – though he influences other characters who are) spans my books from almost the first chapters of The Last Dance to the last page of A Set of Lies and I think of him every day. There is so much to these people I write about that cannot be included in a book, however long it may be, and much of their personality and character must lie in the imagination of you, the reader.

I wonder whether you see them the same way as I do?


Coat of ArmsMay 1st was the anniversary of Wellington’s birth (probably in Dublin but there is a little doubt about that). Being born on 1st May in 1769 he was just a few months older than Napoleon Bonaparte who was born in Ajaccio, on the Isle of Corsica on August 15th 1769.

May 5th is the anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s official demise on the island of St Helena. By 1821 he had been in exile on that island for more than five years and was 51 years old. Wellington lived on until September 1852 – dying at the grand old age of 83.

Well – these are the official facts.

It’s interesting that the information on the internet is frequently completely wrong. One website has Napoleon Bonaparte dying on 5th May but being buried in Les Invalides in Paris on the 7th – that would have been good going even with today’s transportation methods!

Other inaccuracies occur on the internet but the interesting one (almost, I would say, a Freudian slip) is that one well used and respected website has him dying in the United Kingdom. As a protectorate it is possible to say St Helena was ‘The United Kingdom’ but I prefer to think that – as described in A Set of Lies – he died on another island of the UK – the Isle of Wight – and that he outlived the Duke by six months.

I had no idea

Sir RossI had no idea!

My Sir Bernard Lacey in A Set of Lies was created Baronet by the Prime Minister of the time (Lord Liverpool) for services to the country during the Napoleonic Wars.

I have just learned that someone else from the world of fiction was also created Baronet by Lord Liverpool for services to the country during the Napoleonic Wars. Sir Ross Poldark.

And Sir Bernard’s could not have done what he did had it not been for a Cornishman…..