12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it



Set Up

First thousand-ish words of my Western.  To tell the story I’ve decided to try using the inner monologue of main character, Victor, an old man in a schemey bit of town who has trouble with a local gang of miscreants.  He reads a lot of Westerns and watches a lot of old movies, and gradually starts to equate his daily life to a fictionalised Wild West more and more, culminating in a face off between him and the gang leader.  He is a lot more eloquent in his thoughts than when he speaks out loud.

“Any trouble, laddie?” I asked impressively, stepping out onto my front porch with purpose.

Sykes, my dog, followed close behind in case the stranger tried anything.  I scratched him reassuringly behind the ear.  I didn’t think this one was going to cause us too much bother.

The boy stopped what he was doing – raking about in my hedge – and stared at me suspiciously.

He was short, but his face suggested to me that he was small for his age, rather than young.  I’d put his age at maybe ten or eleven.  He had a pointy chin and sharp nose, very dark eyes, and brown hair with a blush of pink running through the side.  Experience told me that made him a member of one of the local gangs, even though ten seemed young to be part of all that.  He was probably the wee brother of one of the main players, I thought.  They drag them into it from about eight or nine.  Train them up.

He was dressed in a grey tracksuit, with grubby neon green socks hauled up over the top of the trousers to just below the knee.  His trainers were sparkling white and very new, but I couldn’t put an age on the rest of the gear.  Older, though.  I reckoned those trainers had been obtained in a manner that wasn’t entirely above board.

“Well?” I said.  “Anything I can help you wi’?”

“Ah wiz just lookin fur ma baw,” he explained squeakily, eyeing Sykes with trepidation.  Maybe he was afraid of dogs.

“Don’t mind him,” I said reassuringly, “he dusnae bite.  No often, onywye.”

I laughed loudly at my own joke.

The boy said nothing.

“Whit’s your name?”  I asked conversationally.

The boy still didn’t respond.

“I’m Victor,” I informed him.  “Victor McGlynn.”

“Ah ken who you are,” the boy squeaked, “awbiddy roon here kens you.”

‘So,’ I said to myself, standing a little straighter at the thought – ‘I’m famous!  A local hero, nae doot.’

Didn’t say it out loud, though.  I didn’t want the young lad to think I wiz tooting ma ain trumpet.  Folk dinnae like it when ye dae that.

“This here is Sykes,” I said.

The boy rolled his eyes.

“Ma dug,” I added, somewhat unnecessarily.

The boy tutted and returned to raking about in my front garden.

There clearly wasn’t a ball there, I’d have seen it land.  It so happened that I had been gazing out of the window for most of the morning as I waited for the local library to open, and nobody had even been past my low garden wall, never mind kicked a ball over it.

Still, I wanted to resolve the matter without causing a stink.  Sure, the boy was trespassing, but he’d probably made an honest mistake.  It wasn’t as if he was ruining my garden on purpose.

“Will you stop lookin’ at me?”  the boy said suddenly.  “What are you, a perve?”

All of a sudden, I knew this wouldn’t be resolved in a civilized manner.

I readjusted my hat, and took a few steps forward, looking as menacing as I could manage, given it was such a lovely day and part of me quite liked having the company.

“D’ye want tae get oot ma gairden?” I said in a gently threatening tone.  It was phrased as a question, but intended as an instruction.

Sykes growled, obligingly.

The boy cracked what looked almost like a grin, but I think in actual fact it was a sneer of derision.

“Nut,” he replied, “no really.”

Rocking back and forth on his feet, he leaned forward and – with some effort – yanked one of my rose bushes clean out of the ground.

“What are you gonnae dae aboot it?”

He threw the mass of branches and soil carelessly over his shoulder.  It landed on the pavement, bounced once, and rolled into the road to obstruct any oncoming traffic.

I considered the question.

What was I gonnae dae aboot it?

The logical thing would be to get in touch with the boy’s parents and tell them about his behaviour, but I wasn’t really sure how to go about doing that.  I didn’t even know the kid’s name, and chances were they’d side with him anyway.  The other option was probably to ring the polis, but that seemed a little melodramatic.  They’re busy folk.

“Looks like I’ll have to take the law into my own hands,” I told Sykes under my breath.

Then I jumped back as something hit me square in the forehead.

Blinking, I rubbed the affected spot and looked around to see where it had come from.  There was no-one to be seen except for me and the kid, but I thought I could hear sniggering from somewhere.

I bent down for a closer look at the missile.  It was a small white stone, like a piece of harling from the outside of a house.

As I straightened up, I was hit again, this time on the cheek.  Then again, on the back.  Then all at once, a barrage of small stones came at me from all directions.

Throwing up my arms to protect myself, I whirled around in a circle to locate my attackers, Sykes barking angrily all the while.

“WEE… TOERAGS!” I decided, remembering that my neighbour had toddlers who might be playing outside at that time who would not want to be subjected to any of the expletives I wanted to use.

The kid in the garden had retreated to the relative safety of the other side of the road, where he was doubled over in laughter.

He must have been bait, I realised.  They knew I’d come out and ask what he was doing in my garden, and he just had to keep me outside long enough for them to attack.

“Ow,” I yelped, as a particularly large stone smashed off my earlobe.

“Bullseye!” Whooped a voice from somewhere to my left.

“Come on Sykes,” I muttered, as it became clear they had more ammo still, “retreat.”

I moved back towards my front door, with one last look around for any faces I recognized.  The only kid I could see was leaning around a wheelie bin at the end of my neighbour’s drive, but he had a scarf pulled over his nose and mouth and a hood up that obscured his hair and cast his eyes in shadow.

Hell, he could’ve been a she for all I know.  Some of those gangs have girls in them, these days.

“You haven’t heard the last of this,” I railed at nobody in particular, although I sounded more confident about that than I actually was.

These kids had been terrorizing the street for months, and nobody had bothered to do anything about it. At that point, it didn’t seem to me as though there was an end in sight.

Book 2 Completed (sort of…)

I have successfully reached the word count for Book 2, and although the story isn’t finished I am optimistic that when I come back to it after writing another ten books I’ll be able to make it into something pretty good.  50,016 words in 28 days – not too bad!

Tried to watch Wild Wild West last night, ostensibly as research for March’s book.  Stopped paying attention about half way through though – it’s pretty dreadful.  Although I still quite like the idea of a steampunk Western in principle. Maybe I could make the concept work…?

I’m going to be guest blogging about the project for Mslexia magazine over the next few months, which is quite exciting.  I’ll do my best not to repeat things that you read on this page, although naturally there will be a certain amount of overlap!  You can read the first article here.


In MARCH I will be writing a Western.

I’d like the main protagonist to be an older gent, based on a lovely chap who used to come into the library and take out 12 westerns at a time, even though he’d read them all hundreds of times already.

Maybe he sees his day to day life in a slightly schemey bit of a Scottish town as a Western? Maybe he goes back in time to the Wild West, either in reality or in a dream?  Could it be a sort of western style set up in the future, like Firefly/Serenity?

I don’t want to spend too much time researching the actual history of the wild west, I just want it to be a fun, colourful, ripping read!

It has been suggested that I call my old gent Victor McGlynn, and that ‘The Shootist‘ and ‘Once Upon a Time in the West‘ would be good films to watch.  And I’ve been told to listen to Ennio Morricone during the writing process to get me in the mood.  I’ve also got a copy of Salty’s Gold to read – let’s hope it lives up to the blurb.

(Old Salty Parker rose into town every week with his little poke of gold dust and left it at the bank. He was the last of the miners at Willard’s Creek and the source of his gold was a mystery that many folk wanted to solve…)

But I need a bit more to go on.  What other western movies should I watch for inspiration? Where should my story be set – the actual wild west or somewhere totally different? Who are the other characters?  Is it a revenge saga?  Who needs avenging?  How?  When?  Are there horses?  Or bandits?  Or ponchos?

As ever, you can leave a comment below, through twitter, or on facebook.  Or you can send me a good old fashioned email –

Still Here!


I haven’t updated in ages, for two reasons.  First of all I wasn’t writing anything for days at a time and I was too embarrassed to tell you.  Well, I was writing loads actually – there was an article about libraries, one about trying to make it as a freelance journo, and one about what it’s like trying to get into theatre directing; as well as assorted posts on my other blogs – but it none of these were my murder mystery novel.

Then last weekend, I wrote so much my hands nearly exploded.  That meant I didn’t really have time to blog, although there was some very mundane tweeting about how many words I had got down.  Between Saturday and Monday I did 23,722 words in order to catch up with my word count target.  Re-reading and editing that lot is going to be interesting…

Anyway, now that chicken sitting duties are over I have gone back to work four days a week, which I hope will help to get me into some semblance of a writing routine.  Assuming I get some suggestions for March’s Western – thus far it has been suggested that the protagonist be called Victor McGlynn, which I rather like, but other characters / plot devices / etc are still wide open.  Feel free to leave a comment below or on the facebook page if you’ve got any further ideas!

Get Involved!

If, for whatever reason, you can’t leave comments on the Get Involved page of the blog, help is at hand!  I have made a photo album on the facebook page so you can leave thoughts on different genres there.  It’s not actually in chronological order, but you’re intelligent people and I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

I’ve done this because March – the first month where I’m really throwing this out to the general public – is fast approaching.  I’ve had some suggestions, but the novel is far from planned!

To remind you, I’d like the main protagonist to be an older gent, based on a lovely chap who used to come into the library and take out 12 westerns at a time, even though he’d read them all hundreds of times already.

Maybe he sees his day to day life in a slightly schemey bit of town as a Western? Maybe he goes back in time, either in reality or in a dream?  Maybe he goes forward in time, to a Serenity style futuristic space western?

You may have gathered by this point that I don’t want to spend too much time researching the actual history of the wild west, I just want it to be a fun, colourful, ripping read!

So, what’s my old gent called? What western movies should I watch for inspiration? Where is it set? Who are the other characters?  He must have a dead or estranged wife/child in his past somewhere, right?  Or maybe that’s too traditional.  In which case, what is his motivation?

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