It’s business time (almost).

Last time, Rob’s novel BLACK MOON was sent out to publishers…and sent straight back! Yes, he received the nicest of rejections and huge encouragement but no mainstream publishers accepted his work. So here we are…

Hello, everyone. Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been busy.

The novel has been proofed and corrected (thanks to Jodie Hatley for your sterling work). My brilliant brother Steve has designed an eye-catching cover for me. So I’ve spent the last couple of weeks building a website. If you’d like to see it, follow this link: There, you’ll find the cover design and a blurb for the book. There’s also a place for visitors to make contact so feel free to send a message. Either way, please do check it out so the visitor counter looks a bit more respectable. In advance, here’s a sneaky peak at the cover design…

Black Moon Variations-1

Publication is coming. I haven’t set the date yet but it’s looking very much like early July. My next post will announce the day. Until then…

Kraitt out!



That’s just, like, your opinion…

overcoming-writers-block-nonprofit-bloggingLast time, I was drunk on the heady euphoria of completing  a crazy challenge to post every day for a month! Previous to that, I was telling you about my writing process prior to self-publishing a bottom-drawer novel called Black Moon. Now, read on…

Having been hit by the notion of writing a novel back in early 2008, and after a rigorous editing process under the intense scrutiny of literary agent Elinor Cooper, my novel was as ready as it was ever going to be.

Elinor is a good friend and, at the time, was my colleague at A P Watt literary agency (she is now flying high at Diamond Khan & Woods). She was a young book agent with a host of contacts and really believed in my book. She had supported me throughout the writing process with some superb editorial commentary. I felt like a real author! We were a dream team and ready to unleash this undoubted blockbuster on to the publishing scene.

So out it went! Elinor compiled a list of amazing editors at the great publishers in the land and fired Black Moon at their reading piles on May 22nd 2009.

I’m very excited about this book; BLACK MOON is taut, fast-paced, incredibly inventive, but also moving and richly detailed. Thanks, Coop!

For the next few weeks and months, I waited with breath that wasn’t just baited, it was caught and held tight like I was a free diver torpedoing to the bottom of the ocean! Try holding your breath for the time it takes an average publisher to respond to a submission – even metaphorically!

And then the responses – or should I say rejections – rolled in…

The premise is great (of course it is) but that the execution isn’t developed enough…too heavy on introspection but also lacking the emotional depth to make it convincing and involving. Oh dear!

I did enjoy BLACK MOON. Hurrah! You have an urgency in the narrative that makes the action fast-paced and readable and I did begin to care about Cat. Too kind! Having said that, I do have reservations. Here it comes. As it stands at the moment it feels unsatisfactory with nothing resolved and no glimpse at where Cat may go next, leaving the reader unsatisfied and not necessarily wanting more… Drat!

I enjoyed it a lot – you are absolutely right about the pace and action, and the voice is nice too. I have a nice voice! It sounds like the author would be brilliantly promotable. Only if you shoot my good side, of course. However, we’ve seen rather a spate of books with werewolf themes recently BUT IT’S NOT A WEREWOLF BOOK!  combined with the fact that Puffin’s list is very strong on the boys’ side of things already, means that I’m afraid I don’t think it’s something for us. Double drat! 

This book got me, I’ll admit it. Now, this is more like it! I was definitely carried along for the ride by Cat’s witty descriptions of what is happening, but I did find it quite hard at points to identify with Cat. That’s because you’re not a teenage boy with super powers.  The story also felt a little thin without other points of view and voices. Well, it is deliberately written in the first personElinor I did really like Rob’s writing style and think he has great talent. We have something that we are currently trying to acquire that feels a little bit similar to this and so I would feel uncomfortable to take this forward as well. If what we are trying to acquire doesn’t work out, I’ll be in touch but I’m sure you will have sold this by then anyway! Needless to say, she never did get back in touch but it was mighty encouraging all the same. 

This one has certainly sparked a lot of talk! I aim to please. We enjoyed the immediacy of Rob’s writing, and were all completely hooked into the pacy and unexpected developments of the opening chapters. There is no question that the mysterious premise of this book is terribly alluring. With the accent on alluring rather than terribly, I hope. I’m afraid, though, that we have decided not to pursue this. We felt that, after such a strong, dynamic opening the second half became rather unwieldy and overcomplicated. Another one bites the dust!

I struggled with it as it starts off as a very realistic story and then suddenly becomes a sci-fi book. I almost felt disappointed when Cat found out what had happened to him; it’s so unexpected it almost seems farcical. This sounds very negative, I didn’t think it was all bad by any means! The very faintest praise, I guess!

And here are some more that show I was close but no one was offering that elusive cigar…

We did think it was a really interesting and intriguing concept and the writing was pacy but we just didn’t think the writing was quite strong enough to really make this a stand-out title.

I thought it was really well written and atmospheric. However, after some thought, the team felt the conspiracy/mystery element was a little too similar in theme to another book we are publishing next year, so it’s unfortunately not one for our list.

I’m torn on this one. More torn than I thought I’d be when I first started reading it to be honest…I just don’t think there’s quite enough there for a compelling book. I think it has huge potential but needs a lot of work to whip it into shape and I don’t think I’m the editor to do that. 

I admit I’ve been very on the fence about it. I love the set up and the conceit but I’m not sure it’s quite doing enough that’s different. Really sorry, but I don’t think it’s going to be one for us.


Battered and bruised, Elinor and I discussed making changes to address some of the comments but, to be honest, I had run out of steam. The editing process started to feel like moving furniture. Black Moon is what it is, and we needed to find someone that loved it enough to get right behind it.

None of this means that there won’t be readers out there who’ll dig my shtick. We just failed to find a publisher excited enough to find out. In those dark days of endless rejection, I couldn’t help summoning the spirit of the Dude…


SO, in an e-publishing industry in which (as of September last year) 60% of e-books sold are self-published, why not have a crack at it?!

It would be rude not to.

Next time, I unveil my book cover and treat you to a blurb. D-Day is upon us, people. Not long now…

Kraitt out!

Zappa #atozchallenge


You could say the music of Frank Vincent Zappa is an acquired taste but there really is something for everyone in this undoubted genius’s huge back catalogue.

I have to thank my brother Steve for introducing me to Frank, and he certainly made the eyes pop out of my pre-teen head with those filthy lyrics (you actually get swearing in songs?!); unforgettably catchy tunes; incredible musicianship from band members like George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock and Steve Vai; and, of course, epic guitar solos.

Zappa’s oeuvre is so diverse and seemingly impenetrable, I couldn’t even begin to point you in the right direction to sample what he has to offer, but the AV Club’s Gateways to Geekery series offers a good beginner’s guide in the article Where to dive into Frank Zappa’s weird, unwieldy discography. Check it out but I wouldn’t blame you for approaching with caution a man who called his children Dweezil and Moon Unit; built a music studio called the Utility Research Muffin Kitchen; and wrote songs with titles like Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow and Theme From The Third Movement of Sinister Footwear.

Zappa was a man who wore many hats: musician, composer, arranger, innovator, satirist and political activist, to name a few. He was also a great story-teller through his songs. I started this blog to showcase my own story-telling so it seems fitting to end this crazy month of daily posting with a story. Today’s link is one of my favourites but I would urge you to seek out the brilliant Joe’s Garage or the galactic Inca Roads.

And, by the way, I DID IT! This is the last post of the darned A to Z Challenge. I now plan to take a week off and return to weekly posts chronicling my self-publishing adventure. The countdown to publication of my novel BLACK MOON begins soon so watch this space.

In the meantime, thanks for reading. Over to Frank…

Kraitt out!

Yessss! #atozchallenge

YOkay, I admit it. I tried really hard but I couldn’t think of a good subject for my Y post. And then I thought, there’s nothing wrong with a little self-pattage on the back…because I’VE ALMOST DONE IT!


That’s right! Twenty- five posts in the last four weeks. I actually posted every day for a month. Crikey! I can’t believe it either. Just one left after today. Let’s have another fist pump…


And, if I may say so myself, there’s some pretty good stuff there, right? If you haven’t had a chance yet, why not check out some of my A to Z Challenge posts?!

A for Anaerobic Digester was a nice start. I’m pretty happy with D for David (Bowie) and You’re Kind of Magic (Q for Queen). There’s also some creative writing on P for Pox, and the latest instalment of my self publishing adventure in J for Jack Dixon. Along the way, you can discover my favourite films, listen to some great music and hear about my bad driving. There’s something for everyone. How does that feel, Dennis?!


So in honour of this day of positivity and generally feeling good about ourselves,  fellow bloggers, here’s an oldie and a goodie…oh and one more fist pump – YESSSS!

Is that blood on the walls?!

See you tomorrow for some musical story-time to celebrate the end of the A to Z Challenge.

Kraitt out.

X Men School #atozchallenge


XWho’s your favourite member of the X Men – or X Person (if you feel that a group of super heroes of both genders should have had an appropriate name change by 2016)?

Is it Wolverine, with his wolf-like retractable claws and less wolf-like self-healing powers, or Cyclops, who wears cool designer ski goggles because red laser beams constantly shoot from his eyes. You might favour Storm and her ability to roll her eyeballs 360° and manipulate the weather, or Rogue, one of the coolest for her knack of absorbing the abilities of others thus rendering her all-powerful (and consequently, in the patchy  X Men 3, just a little bonkers).

To be honest, Marvel’s X Men – created by the amazing Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby in 1963 – now one of their most successful comic book and movie franchises, is a bit of a swizz. Coming up with a collection of superhero mutants with different powers (and admittedly silly names and even sillier costumes), Stan Lee knew that his characters could literally do anything – which means the stories would end up becoming more outlandish and ridiculous as the years went by. Kicking off as a clever commentary on race and equality in the turbulent early 60s, these all powerful characters would end up only being able to fight each other before Lee and his writers had to think of even more astonishing beings that would challenge them. You’ve seen the movies, well the comics are even more mind-boggling.

Marvel turns it up to 11 in a recent Uncanny X Men series

I do love the X Men (although I’d say the movies peaked at X Men 2) but I always wonder if Dr Xavier’s school for gifted children – where these extraordinary mutants are taught to harness their gifts – should offer courses for those with more mundane, everyday powers. Perhaps you have the amazing ability to open jars that have been closed too tightly. Off to X Men school with you! They would call you The Twist. You might have an uncanny sense of direction. You’d be in there too and your X Men name would be SatNav. Perhaps you just give incredible hugs, the kind that have awesome regenerative powers. You’re enrolling! You will be known simply as The Bear.

These powers are no more useful than teleportation or the ability to manipulate metals with your mind. They might even be more useful. How are these X Men going to find their way to a battle without SatNav – or more importantly, find their way out. Where do they go if their feeling a little low? That’s a job for The Bear.

So what would your X-power be? What gets you into X Men school? Are you particularly good at Sudoku? Do you always arrive on time? Perhaps you have an uncanny memory for pop lyrics of the Nineties. I’ll get you an application form.

My power is that I am incredibly good at finding things: keys, wallets, school ties, household bills – if you’ve mislaid it, I can get it for you. I’m pretty sure I’d walk into X Men school with that humdinger. I bet Wolverine is always losing stuff. They’d call me Findo. Now, I need a costume.

Kraitt out.

Wolverine’s lost his mobile phone again!

Wilder #atozchallenge


WThere they are! Arguably one of the greatest film directors of all time and his muse. From the screwball comedy of Some Like It Hot to the greatest tale of Hollywood in Sunset Boulevard; the ultimate film noir of Double Indemnity to the searing – still contemporary – Ace In The Hole, Billy Wilder delivered classic after classic after classic. Jack Lemmon was the star that fitted Wilder’s brilliantly conceived characters like a Saville Row three-piece and was never better than in my favourite movie of them all, The Apartment.


Jack plays C C Baxter (“C for Charlie, C for Calvin, but most people call me Bud”), the lovable but conniving corporate climber, running a knocking shop for randy executives from  his bachelor pad in New York. Bud loves troubled elevator girl Fran Kubelick, played with wit and warmth by Shirley MacLaine, and wants to close the doors of his love nest for good so he can feather it with her. Trouble is, life just ain’t that simple…

This is a movie about so many things: ambition in corporate America, urban living, loneliness, friendship and infidelity. It can be truthful, heart-breaking, dramatic, gripping, romantic and as laugh-out-loud funny as you’d expect from the best of Billy Wilder.

Every character is played to perfection: Fred MacMurray’s sleazy Mr. Sheldrake; the effervescent MacLaine and, of course, the legend that is Lemmon giving the most natural but nuanced performance of his life. Even Bud’s neighbours, compassionate Doctor Drefyus and his disapproving wife (“No napkins?! Beatnick!”), are colourful, complex and believable. No wonder the movie won 5 Oscars (when it meant something). Wilder won for the movie and his sublime directing, as well as the pitch-perfect screenplay written with long-time writing partner I A L Diamond (criminally this is the only Oscar they won together, though they were nominated for Some Like It Hot and The Fortune Cookie). Academy Awards were also given for art direction and editing but MacLaine and Lemmon went home empty-handed. It was a tough year. Jack lost out to Burt Lancaster’s Elmer Gantry with Laurence Olivier’s The Entertainer snapping at their heels (Kirk Douglas wasn’t even nominated for Spartacus – then, neither was Stanley Kubrick!). Shirley MacLaine was pipped by Elizabeth Taylor for Butterfield 8, no shame there.

So do yourselves a favour. Stock up the fridge, lock the front door, put on your PJs and turn off the phone. Then, settle in for a Wilder weekend. Perhaps kick of light with Some Like it Hot and Sabrina, maybe take a detour through Irma La Douce, before getting serious with Witness For The Prosecution, Sunset Boulevard and Double Indemnity. You mustn’t forget The Fortune Cookie for some Lemmon/Matthau fun, but you could get obscure with Ace In The Hole and Stalag 17 or even the underrated Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. There are, of course, many more to choose from.

Save the last slot for The Apartment. I’m not even sure if it’s his best picture but it’s my favourite Wilder-wise, and movie-wise in general (and if you watch it, you’ll get the joke in that last sentence). Cynical romantic that I am, I think it’s just heaven.

Here’s one of many brilliant moments, and some of the best movie writing you’ll find.

See you tomorrow for some super powers.

Kraitt out!


Van Man #atozchallenge


Once upon a time, I was a white van man.

VMy step-brother Adrian used to own a fish and poultry supplier on Highgate Road, London called Fish And Fowl. You may remember it, if you lived in the area. He used to open up to the public on the weekends; selling all kinds of fresh fish and free range chickens. His partner Robert (pronounced the French way because he is…er…French) was the most charming fishmonger in North London!

Ade’s main business was supplying to some of the best restaurants across London, such as The Ivy, The Square and Bibendum. He’d be up at the crack of dawn to buy his wares at Billingsgate and, on Saturdays through my late teens, I’d pick it up at 9am to deliver across London. There I was: windows wide open, elbow out, smoking a fag and singing to the radio at full volume. What a feeling!

Yes, there was a downside. Every week, I’d go home stinking of fish and had to scrub myself clean. At least it was only once a week. Ade had to deal with it every day!

One of my favourite parts of the job was entering the city’s most celebrated restaurants through the back door and seeing the kitchens at work. Joe Allen in Covent Garden always reminded me of the long shot in Goodfellas where Henry Hill takes Karen through the kitchens of the Copacabana on their first date (see blog post G for Goodfellas): the hustle and bustle; the smells and the stream; the meat and fruit and veg piling up as the deliveries poured in at the same time. I’d have to stand by as furious head chefs prodded the fish and sniffed the chickens, meticulously inspecting their quality as they barked orders over their shoulders to the quivering staff. It really was every cliché you can imagine.

My other driving job was also restaurant-related but a little less glamorous. In my year off before college, I was delivering laundry and hot towels to Indian and Chinese restaurants in London and the Home Counties, and picking up the dirties. I still loved the life on the open road but it wasn’t much fun sorting through curry-crusted tablecloths and mucky hot towels.

One afternoon towards the end of my time there, when I’d had it with the laundry and the traffic and the M-frickin’-25, I was ordered on one last delivery when I should have been clocking off. I threw the laundry parcels in the back of the van, slammed the doors and screeched off petulantly down the alleyway behind the factory . When I returned, I discovered that my boss had prevented World War Three with our mechanic next door neighbours because I’d knocked off the wing mirror of one of their cars. I escaped a beating that would probably have had me off work for a few days and had to pay for the damage out of my wages. I quit the next day.

The van man feeling never quite leaves you. I still find myself driving like a Londoner; a little aggressive, a little reckless with the gaps (“You could get a TANK through there!!”) and always looking for the perfect short cut. I happen to think I’m a great driver. My children say my driving makes them feel ill.

Tomorrow, my favourite film of all time. Until then, the best ever movie moment featuring a van.

Kraitt out!