New books — Supernature 2 & Cullen 7

DEAD-Kindle-2014-09-17Let’s start with SUPERNATURE book 2, JUST WALKING THE DEAD. A little novella thing, 15,000 words of vampire-related deviancy. It’s out on Friday (12-Jun-15, my birthday!) and is on pre-order just now —

Universal Amazon link —

Magic, what’s next?

Sample-cover-smlOh — yes. This.

The seventh Cullen novel. I’m getting into deep edits with it and shooting for a release on 01-Aug-15. It’s a bit of a monster and has taken me longer to write but the initial feedback seems to show it’s worth the extra effort. It’s about 25% longer than the other Cullens (still shorter than SNARED) and is pretty bloody complex.

With a series of male rapes around Edinburgh baffling police, a bloodied corpse is found in the shadow of Dean Bridge, handcuffed and half-naked. Who is he? Why is he handcuffed? Did he fall or was he pushed?

As the victim is identified, the case only gets murkier. Detective Sergeant Scott Cullen of Police Scotland’s Edinburgh Major Investigation Team is sucked into the depths of the city’s financial services sector, facing up to some old enemies and creating some new ones. Just months into his new role, Cullen is torn by the trials of management, putting a friendship on the line. New leads take them no further forward — too many suspects in a world where nobody trusts anybody else and all are out for themselves. Can Cullen catch a killer who could be anyone?

From bestselling author Ed James, Cowboys and Indians is a tightly woven, gripping crime novel challenging the honesty of professional liars.

Universal Amazon link —


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SNARED reviews

Screenshot 2015-01-12 12.31.13Here’s a sample of some SNARED reviews. Currently averaging 4.8 after 56 reviews on which is blowing my mind.

Buy it on Amazon (Kindle and paperback) — (universal link)

Had a few people hit the blog over the last few days looking for news of COWBOYS AND INDIANS, Cullen seven. I’m working on the second draft of it just now (some problems with the stupid amount of complexity I’ve put into it and getting the end to work, might have to kill some darlings but that’s for next week). Looking like a July or August release is still achievable but I’m not getting into the mess I got with WINDCHILL…

— Ed

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SNARED out today — many 5* reviews

Screenshot 2015-01-12 12.31.13

So, yeah. SNARED is out now. A long time of waiting is over and it’s in your hands to devour and enjoy. I’ve been absolutely blown away by the initial reviews — sixteen 5* in the UK so far. Wow. Just wow. Many thanks to the early readers for honesty and I hope the rest of you enjoy the book when it comes out.

Special thanks to all at Thomas & Mercer for taking the book on and supporting it. Also, infinite thanks to my agent Allan Guthrie at Jenny Brown Associates for taking me on eighteen months ago. And thanks to you all for reading my books.

SNARED on sale at amazon — (global link)



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cowboys&indiansJust a quick note to let you guys know I’m actively WRITING this book, the seventh in the Cullen series. Taken a bit longer to plan and outline, which is definitely paying off (though still not perfect, ha). Got to 25% midway through my fourth day of writing, so it’s going pretty well so far.

Needless to say, it’s not about the genocide of the American indigenous population over the last 500 years. The cowboys relate to certain police officers, but also colleagues of the murder victim. The Indians are, of course, natives of the Indian subcontinent, home of much of the outsourced IT development in UK/US since the late 90s.

Very interesting writing given what happened at the end of the last book, too. There’s a lot less moaning about promotions in this one.

I’ve kind of neglected my self-published works over the last six months since WINDCHILL, so it’ll be good to get some instant karma with this book. There’s something else in the pipes, which some of you have been after for a year or so…

It’s a pretty good project to get myself stuck in while I await the impending release of SNARED. I hate waiting for anything and I really am Mr Impatient (should just get it over with and change my name to Ed Impatient).

— Ed

SNARED out 28-Apr-15! Pre-order now!

“A great story, regardless and one guaranteed to spark debate” — Goodreads review

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Just a quick note to say SHOT THROUGH THE HEART is 99p/99c on Kindle for the next two days.

Oh, what on Earth could this be?


— Ed

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Fail to plan, plan to fail

A few months ago, I was watching Sky’s MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL with Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville, an absolutely peerless dissection of the more subtler nuances of football (soccer to those in the US). If anyone had told me ten years ago that those two would be the best pundits on TV… Anyway, Neville made a comment about a team’s defensive frailties along the lines of their plan being broken and once you let go of that, you’re improvising and then you’re really in trouble.

In football, and I suppose general sports, planning is essential to success at the top level.

Top teams nowadays have a huge backroom staff, usually in excess of a hundred, and most of them aren’t medical staff. A team will have a large number of ProZone analysts, looking through previous match footage of upcoming opponents, looking where their gaps are and presenting it to the manager. The manager will devise a plan and his job is to communicate it to the players.

Footballers don’t get paid for running around for ninety minutes on a Saturday, they get paid for that plus spend five hours a day going through fitness training (maybe an hour once the season’s underway) and a lot of drills and whiteboard activities. Drills let the team work together on specific scenarios they’ll face in the match, so when in the 38th minute, a player makes a run down the right unmarked and someone hits a sweet ball to them, it appears improvised but they will in reality have gone through that move fifty times.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, that quote keeps rattling around in my head as I go through my latest work-in-progress, FUTURE SHOCK. This started life as a short story about five years ago and I decided to flesh it out to a novel length work last year. The results weren’t great, largely because I’d been improvising and the plot was all over the place. It was a sobering reflection on how little “winging it” can actually work. I’ve now spent four weeks this year going back to the drawing board on it and doing what I should’ve done last year.


I’ve gone through several iterations of a complex plan, further complicated by the fact I’d written 65,000 words of the novel and have to keep that in sync.

They generally talk about two types of writers — planners and pantsers, or architects and gardeners. To me, it’s just the same thing, depending on when you do your planning. Pantsers, i.e. write by the seat of your pants, generally create 60,000+ words in a dreadful first draft then edit it until it’s something that works. I learnt a long time ago that I’m much better planning first and getting the story nailed down before I write it. It still allows for improvisation but it means when you’re tearing the structure apart, it’s a 10,000 word synopsis you’re cutting up and not a 90,000 word novel. You’re less tempted to keep flawed storylines and more inclined to kill your darlings (remove the flab).

I just wish I’d listened to my own advice in October. This is a sobering reflection of how badly things can go. FWIW, the two drafts of THE HOPE THAT KILLS took me seven weeks all in, and is one of the most complete books i’ve ever written, tightly plotted, exciting, full of character and with a story that gets emotional attachment on page one. Likewise, the outline for COWBOYS AND INDIANS is nice and clean, with the sort of complexity that was maybe missing from WINDCHILL.

Back to the drawing board.

— Ed

Current project — FUTURE SHOCK, draft 2

Next project — COWBOYS AND INDIANS, draft 1

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Editing — hell is Microsoft Word

IMG_0007Fascinating piece on the register about Edinburgh scifi writer Charles Stross’s decision to dump Word for LibreOffice on his Mac.

I’m of a similar mind — I despise using Word and have been using Scrivener for over two and a half years to create my books, definitely a key reason in why I can be so fast.

My experience of writing (just finished my 13th novel) has taught me there’s three key phases —


(Note that pantsers/gardeners, i.e. make it up as you go along, tend to do writing, then outlining, then editing, but it’s a lot less clear — they’ll write a book and then map it to a story structure, delete chunks and write new chunks and generally muck about until they get something. I tried it and it’s definitely not how I’m wired)

Anyway, I usually devote a third of the total time to each phase, say two weeks on each. Two weeks of messing about in Scapple then Scrivener to get my scene outline nailed and I can easily crack out an outline into a full novel in a fortnight, say 80,000 words. I then edit it so it makes sense then get feedback from three trusted alpha readers. Then I’m into another two weeks of changes to make it better.

What happens next is the industrial editing — structural then line then copy then proofing — and it’s all done in Word, using track changes. Scrivener doesn’t come into it, not the intention of the product.

But word is so bloody awful, especially the Mac one but the Windows one is so flaky. I want it to track changes and do it well. Word wants to do a million and one things very adequately, at best. Except for crashing, that it does perfectly. And adding a stupid ribbon. And Aargh.

Going through my final self-edit of CRASH INTO MY ARMS (really needs a new title) and it occurred to me how to get Scrivener working with track changes. Word has a decent feature to compare two historical versions of the same document and mark up changes. Tried it and the results are perfect. No more having to use the bugger until I’m in industrial editing mode, thank God.

— Ed

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