Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Black Ops - the 12th Spider Shepherd Thriller - Is Done And Dusted

Black Ops, the 12th book in my Spider Shepherd series - is off to the printers.  I'm well pleased with it, I think it's a cracker of a story.

Hodder and Stoughton have already decided that this is the cover, I think.


Black Ops is on sale in July but is already available on pre-sale at Amazon - YOU CAN GET IT BY CLICKING HERE

Here's the synopsis -

WHO CAN YOU TRUST IF YOU CAN'T TRUST YOURSELF?
Spider Shepherd's MI5 Controller, Charlie Button, has gone rogue, using government resources to get revenge on the men who killed her husband. Spider is told to betray her. Worse, he's asked to cooperate with his nemesis at MI6, Jeremy Willoughby Brown, in taking Charlie down. And he will have to cross the assassin, Lex Harper, currently on the trail of two Irish terrorists, who may be able to lead him to his ex-boss.
Meanwhile, Spider's sixteen-year-old son is caught with drugs, expelled from school and threatened with prosecution. But the drug police offer Spider a deal: go undercover, unmask a local dealer and his son will go free. Spider has no option but to cooperate. But is he any better than Charlie, using work resources to resolve personal issues?
There's little time to debate because another high profile mission is about to engulf him. President Vladimir Putin is about to visit the UK and a father who lost his son on the downed Malaysian plane over the Ukraine holds Putin directly responsible for his death and wants revenge. Along with everything else, it's down to Spider to stop the assassination of a head of state on British soil.


Despite it being a complex plot, it took less than four months to write. The edit was done in a couple of days and the line edit took another day to check.  It was plain sailing all the way, pretty much.

I'm always a little surprised at professional writers who go through endless drafts of a book. Especially those who say - 'The first draft is done, now the hard work begins'.  In my experience it's better to do all the hard work before you finish the first draft.

One writer who thinks that way is David Harrison, who writes under the name Tom Bale. YOU CAN READ A RECENT INTERVIEW WITH TOM BALE HERE

This is what Tom Bale says about rewriting -


The fact that his second draft takes longer than the first suggests that there was something very wrong with the first draft. Which is perhaps why Tom Bale has recently been dropped by his former publisher, Random House - and has had to sign with a new agent. In my experience publishers and agents don't want writers doing rewrites after rewrites - they much prefer the writer to get it right the first time.

I always think of writing as akin to painting, really there's no excuse for not getting it right the first time. I doubt that DaVinci finished the Mona Lisa, took a step back and said "You know, I think she'd look better as a blonde and maybe I'll change the smile to a frown".  That's not how painters work, they improve their art as they go along.

In fact it's the same with any profession. You wouldn't trust a cosmetic surgeon who said "I'll have a go at your face lift. The first version probably won't look that good but we'll be able to have another go at it."

Or a mechanic who said he'll fix your brakes "but it won't be perfect, you go away and tell me what's wrong and I'll try again."

In fact I can't think of another profession - other than maybe computer programmers - who hand in a 'finished' job that clearly isn't fit for purpose.

Don't get me wrong. The best advice you can give to a writer starting off is to write every day. And yes, it's fair to tell them that anything they write doesn't have to be perfect first time because it can always be improved.

But that's for amateurs. For wannabes. For writers who are learning their craft. Things change once you're a professional. Any writer who hands in a first draft and then receives pages of notes from an editor and a request for a complete rewrite really has failed in his job. And if that rewrite isn't perfect and requires another rewrite, then something is badly wrong.

Writing isn't easy. It's time consuming and it's challenging. But time and time again I hear writers complain that producing a book is like pulling teeth and that they have to go through rewrite after rewrite before their book is publishable.  Writer's write, that's what they do. Anyone who complains about the process isn't a real writer. And real writers don't hand in work to a publisher until it's pretty much perfect. So yes, the best advice to any writer when they are starting out is to write every day and not to worry too much about the quality. But once you are a professional, once you earn your living from the words you produce, then the work you hand in should be fit for purpose. Anything more than a simple tweak or polish means you have failed.

So what now?  I'm working on a stand-alone ISIS thriller set in London. I've done 36,000 words and it's really, really good.  I can't tell you the title because it's quite special, but one I rejected early on was "Nine Guys Called Mo".  Seriously!

There's a character called Lex Harper in Black Ops (he was Spider's spotter in Afghanistan) who is a drugs baron and part-time assassin. I'm planning a book in which he'll be the main character, maybe even a series.

And I'm hoping for more Jack Nightingale short stories, maybe even a new novel. Busy, busy, busy. But every moment of it is a blast!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Great Cheap Chilli Recipes Book From Jeremy Dun

I'm a huge fan of chilli. I eat lots of it. I've cut back on carbs so these days I tend to cut out the rice and bread and eat my chilli neat.

Generally I use a slow cooker - in my experience the slower you cook your chilli the better.  And I'm always looking for new recipes to try. That's why I was so excited by this new book from Jeremy Dun - it's packed with great recipes that I'm just itching to try. And it's only £1.99 at the moment.


You can buy Jeremy Duns chilli cookbook BY CLICKING THIS LINK

There are some great recipes in the book, including a chicken and chorizio chilli that I can't wait to try.

My own recipe for chilli? Okay, twist my arm and I'll tell you. Though be warned, I'm used to Thai food so I like my chilli hot, hot, hot! Anyway, here's how to make Stephen Leather's world famous chilli! I always start by browning half a dozen chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil. I use a wok, it's easier. Then I brown my beef. Minced is best but sometimes I use chopped steak. A pound is usually enough but you can use more if you like it meatier. I brown it with some salt and then throw in a chopped onion.  Then I throw in four tablespoons of chilli powder and brown for another couple of minutes.

I put two cans of chopped tomatoes in a slow cooker, then add the browned meat. Then I throw in two tins of red kidney beans. Always wash and drain them first. I'm not a big fan of dried beans, tinned always taste better and there's no risk of poisoning yourself. I add a small can of tomato puree. Then my little secret. I put frozen chopped jalapeƱo peppers in, just a couple of teaspoonfuls but wow do they add a kick. I buy them from Waitrose. If I have any Thai chillies around I chop them up finely, seeds and all, and toss them in.

I throw in some cayenne pepper for good luck, then give it a good stir and cook for at least six hours on a low heat. I like my sauce quite thick so depending on how much water has evaporated during the cooking I sometimes use cornflour to thicken it right at the last minute. Oh, and I like to sprinkle diced avocado on the top, but that's just me!

Any that I don't eat the first time I freeze and I have to say that it tastes better after it's frozen and thawed. But be warned - my recipe is hot. If you're new to the delights of chilli you might be better off starting with the milder recipes in Jeremy Duns book.

Happy eating!


Monday, February 16, 2015

My Website Is Down - Thanks Internetters!

My website - www.stephenleather.com - has been out of commission since Saturday, and my email through that account isn't working.

It's all down to my internet provider - www.internetters.co.uk - who have dropped the ball, big-time.

What makes it worse is that the people at Internetters don't work in the evenings or at weekends. That's right, they work 9-5 and don't answer the phone or reply to emails outside of those hours.

My website went down on Saturday morning and it's now Tuesday and Internetters haven't replied to any of my emails. It's the worst possible customer service to ignore a customer, right?  And I can't believe that in the 21st century an internet service provider thinks it's acceptable not to work at weekends. Do they think the rest of us just shut down on Saturday and Sunday?

Everyone who has emailed me through my website has been told that the account doesn't exist! Well, it does. And I'm in the process of switching everything over to GoDaddy, who are there to help 24/7.

To be fair, I never chose to work with Internetters. I was a client of a company called Skymarket, who were great. But they were acquired by Internetters a few years ago and I have had problems ever since, in  particular with my email.

Anyway, hopefully all will be well in the day next day or two. Fingers crossed.


UPDATE FEBRUARY 18 - My website is up and running now, courtesy of GoDaddy. Hopefully it'll be trouble free from now on.  My email is still not working, but hopefully will be sorted sooner rather than later.  I finally got a reply from Internetters. Apparently it's my own fault for sending multiple emails. I sent one a day, they say I should have just waited for them to reply.  Six days!  Unbelievable. If there is a worse internet provider out there I have yet to come across them.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

San Francisco Night Tops The Occult Chart

The new Jack Nightingale novel - San Francisco Night - is the best-selling Occult book on the Kindle in the UK at the moment. And the Jack Nightingale short story The Tracks is topping the Young Adults Short Stories chart.


I have self published San Francisco Night and you can buy it for the Kindle by CLICKING HERE

You can also buy it as a paperback by CLICKING HERE



I am planning a new Jack Nightingale novel in the near future and a run of Jack Nightingale short stories. Watch this space!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year Cheap Deals On Spider Shepherd Full-length Novels

The wonderful people at Amazon have slashed the price of my Spider Shepherd novels to just £4.35 for three. That's close to 1,600 pages for less than a fiver,  less than £1.50 per book. The books are Soft Target, Cold Kill, Hot Blood, Dead Men, Live Fire and Rough Justice.

Hodder has published them in two eBook volumes and they are the cheapest way of buying the Spider novels.



You can buy the first volume BY CLICKING HERE  It has the full length books Soft Target, Cold Kill and Hot Blood.



You can buy the second volume BY CLICKING HERE   It contains Dead Men, Live Fire and Rough Justice.

I'm not sure how long they will stay at the special low price of £4.35. I hope for a long time!

Meanwhile I'm hard at work on the latest Spider Shepherd novel - Black Ops - which should be on the shelves (real and virtual) this summer.

I hope you and your families all have  great New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Jack Nightingale Christmas

All's well on the Jack Nightingale front. The two recently-published Jack Nightingale short stories - My Name Is Lydia and Tracks  are the two best-selling Horror short stories on the Kindle.



And the new Jack Nightingale full-length novel - San Francisco Night - is the best selling Occult book on the Kindle.


You can buy San Francisco Night for the Kindle by CLICKING HERE

I'm now working flat out on the new Spider Shepherd book - Black Ops. I've written 103,000 words so far and am on the home stretch. It should be in the shops by the summer.

And then?  I have a great idea for a new stand alone thriller. Actually I have ideas - titles and plots - for two, it's just a question of which I write first!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The New Jack Nightingale Novel

The new Jack Nightingale supernatural detective novel is now up and running on the Kindle and through Smashwords. It's called San Francisco Night and I think it's the best yet!



Here's the synopsis, or the blurb as they call it in the trade! Jack Nightingale fights his battles in the shadows – in the grey areas where the real world meets the supernatural. But when he arrives in San Francisco to take on a group of Satanists bent on opening a doorway to Hell, the danger is out in the open and all too real. The Apostles – a Satanic coven using murder and torture to pave the way for a demon to enter the real world – realise that Nightingale is on their tail. And unleash their own brand of monsters to take him down. With Nightingale’s life – and his very soul – on the line, he has only days to stop The Apostles from bringing death and destruction to the entire world.

I had hoped to have the paperback of San Francisco Night available before Christmas but the mother of the lady who is doing the formatting fell and broke her ribs and she has to take care of her so it isn't going to happen. I know some people don't have eReaders and others really do prefer the feel of a hardback and a paperback, but it looks now as if it won't be ready until the new year. I'm selling the eBook for just £2.99 in the run up to Christmas. It'll go up to its regular price on Boxing Day.

Why am I self-publishing it? Basically my publisher - Hodder and Stoughton - didn't want to continue the series but I did. They already have a five-book deal with me for other books (including the Spider Shepherd series) and didn't really want any more. My agent wasn't enthusiastic about taking it to another publisher so self-publishing seemed like a no-brainer. It's not as if I don't know what I'm doing, I've already sold well over a million eBooks!


Anyway, after just one day San Francisco Night became the best-selling Occult Horror novel on the Kindle in the UK, which was reassuring!


Will there be more Jack Nightingale novels? I'm honestly not sure.  We'll see how this one sells. The character will continue, of that I'm sure.  I am planning a run of Jack Nightingale short stories. I have already published Curse, Still Bleeding, Tracks and My Name Is Lydia.  I do love the character and Jack has reached the stage where he has a life of his own, pretty much, so I don't see that he will let me stop writing about him!

Anyway, have a great Christmas - you can buy San Francisco Night on the Kindle BY CLICKING HERE