Dear Algorithm …

I have an unusual guest post today from fellow Crooked Cat author Tom Halford.  A story, in the form of a one-sided conversation with a Twitter Algorithm.  Ah, the lengths we authors will go to, to sell our books.  I just feel sorry for the goat ….

Dear Algorithm,

by Tom Halford

7:00 AM

Dear Twitter Algorithm,

Deli Meat is being released today.

A review:

“Really enjoyed reading this. Didn’t know what to expect next and had a handful of some serious belly laughs. Very fun read.”

Will you make me trendy?


Tom Halford

9:00 AM

Dear Twitter Algorithm,

I have a confession. Last night I drove to top of a mountain, a goat bleating in my trunk.

Dragging it out and gazing at the circuitry of lights, I pulled a blade from my pocket and shouted, “For the Algorithm!”

More soon,


12:00 AM

Dear Twitter Algorithm,

My confession continues.

Blue and red lights flickered against the goat’s eyes. I turned.

“Sir, what are you doing with that goat?” asked the officer.

I heard hooves trotting off, down the hill.

Will write soon,


4:00 PM

Hi again Twitter Algorithm,

My confession continues.

The officer stared at me and said, “You better catch it. You wouldn’t want to upset the algorithm.”

We sidestepped down the mountain but couldn’t keep up with the goat.

Will write soon,


8:00 PM


Sorry to write again Twitter Algorithm,

“The Algorithm will be furious,” said the officer, who tripped and crashed down the rocky slope.

A flock of tiny blue birds seemed to flutter up out of the lifeless body.

More soon,



Dear Twitter Algorithm,

It is night here. I did not become a trendy hashtag. Oh well.

It’s almost as if I can hear the goat’s hooves now, tapping down the street.

I reach for my knife but for what?

Good night,


Deli meat.jpgTom H

Effie Pitts is not your typical hero of a crime novel.

Looking for her husband who disappeared during a bachelor trip across the border, Effie stumbles onto a hidden connection between a series of crimes plaguing the citizens of Plattsburgh, New York.

Tourists and shoppers have been disappearing for four years, and locals are certain a serial killer is prowling the streets of the small border town—that is until a mysterious cult known as The Pure White Hand surfaces.

Effie travels to the United States looking for answers, but she only finds more questions.

Where is her husband? Has she bitten off more than she can chew?

You can find Deli Meat on Amazon here

Poetry Jam

I had a great couple of hours today at the Poetry Jam in Marsden, part of the Jazz Festival.  It was completely packed, and there was lots of excellent poetry, in a wide range of different styles, all expertly compered by the indefatigable Julian Jordon from Write Out Loud (pictured – sorry about the poor quality).  Here’s one of the two poems I read:


Christmas Card Friends

Do my words hang in corners

by snow-covered trees

and the unremarked faces of angels?

Do you look for my messages,

old secrets gift-wrapped in rhyme?


I choose pictures with meanings

and couplets that recast the spell.

I send you magic:

you send me ‘Joyeux Noel’.


I share the same greeting

with old friends from school

whom you pass in the street without knowing

yet my lips touch the rubber-stamped

crosses that never touched yours.


Long ago, we were lovers;

for me, even old love transcends

the dead sheets of paper

that pass between Christmas card friends.


Welcome, Jo!

Today I am joined by fellow Crooked Cat author Jo Fenton, whose psychological thriller, The Brotherhood, was published in July.

Welcome, Jo, tell us all about The Brotherhood!

The Brotherhood is a psychological thriller set in a religious sect in the English countryside. The setting is an Abbey, which adds hugely to the feeling of claustrophobia and creepiness.

A young woman, Melissa gets caught up in the sect when she’s at her most vulnerable, and becomes drawn into a life of rules, punishment and restraint. This is made even worse when the sect leader, Dominic decides to get involved…

What plans do you have for future novels?

I’m very excited about yesterday’s announcement that the sequel to The Brotherhood will be published by Crooked Cat. The Refuge is due for release in 2019.

I also have a series planned for a female, Manchester based detective…

I see that, like me, you’re an avid member of writing groups. How do you find this helps your writing?

Writing groups are invaluable. My first group came about as a direct result of a set of writing workshops. When the workshops ended, we wanted to carry on meeting up. Regular critique sessions help to hone writing skills, and are a good incentive to get writing when faced with a blank page and a critique session next week!

Both my writing groups provide fantastic support, encouragement and advice, as well as writing feedback.

You’re also a scientist. Would you like to say anything about your work?

I couldn’t resist including some Clinical Trials in The Brotherhood. It’s an unusual twist for a religious sect, and I managed not to dump a load of unnecessary information into the book. It’s always a challenge when writing about something you know well, to avoid telling the reader everything you know!

I love my job in Clinical Research. It’s challenging, complicated, and very worthwhile.

How do you balance the demands of writing, work and your family?

That’s the age-old question! With difficulty is the true answer.

In some ways, I’m very lucky. I have 2 nearly grown up sons who are fairly independent and an extremely house-trained and supportive husband, who does more than his share of household tasks.

On the other hand, my job is very demanding, and takes a lot of time and concentration.

Fitting in writing is a constant juggling act, requiring discipline, motivation, planning, and the occasional glass of wine!

You grew up in the South. How do you find living in Manchester?

I love Manchester. I’ve now lived here longer than I lived in the South. There’s a really friendly vibe here. Everyone pulls together in times of crisis, and I’ve seen incredible examples of strength of character.

It doesn’t rain as often as people think either.

Finally, what question would you have liked me to ask that I didn’t?

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

And what is the answer?

I wrote a talent show sketch for my youth group. It was performed at a competition, with Maureen Lipmann as the judge, and apparently had her crying with laughter.

It was a strange cross between Noddy and The Magic Roundabout.

Many thanks for those fascinating answers, Jo!  Best wishes for The Brotherhood – and its successor! 

You can find The Brotherhood on Amazon here

and Jo’s author page here

The Brotherhood

Spotlight: T.E. Taylor, Revolution Day

Dictators in History: Saddam Hussein.

I’m talking to fellow Crooked Cat author Jennifer Wilson today about Saddam Hussein and comparing him to Carlos in Revolution Day (currently on special offer at £1 and equivalent).

Jennifer C. Wilson

Today on the blog, I’m delighted to welcome back fellow Crooked Cat Books author Tim (T.E.) Taylor, to talk about his novel Revolution Day, and the historical links between his fictional dictator, and some, sadly, non-fictional… 

Dictators in History: Saddam Hussein

Many thanks for hosting me today, Jennifer!

I thought I would take this opportunity to write the latest in my occasional series of posts about historical dictators, discussing their careers and comparing them to Carlos Almanzor, the ageing dictator in my novel Revolution Day.  The novel follows a year in Carlos’ life as his vice-president plots against him and his estranged wife writes a memoir of his regime and their marriage (and it’s on special offer at 99p or equivalent for a short period)! This time I thought I would discuss Saddam Hussein.

Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti was born near the Iraqi town of Tikrit on 28…

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