Author Talk

I had a lovely talk this morning with Ania at the Campbelltown library. They are going to host an Author Talk, featuring, me. Date and time to be determined, but we’re looking at the October / November time frame.

The biggest challenge I have as a writer is getting visibility. I have 18 books to choose from, but (and I did the math) 99.999975% of the world’s population has no idea I write. My goal over the next twelve months is to lower that to 99.9975% (or better).

This will be my first library hosted Author Talk. I have a general idea of content, but I’d like to hear from readers.

What would you like to hear from an author at an Author Talk?

Let me know below.

In the meantime, here’s me talking about my books, and writing.

ChatGPT: Why Story Structure is Important

I asked ChatGPT to write a blog post about the importance of story structure. While not bad, I wouldn’t call it good. I don’t feel threatened.


Here it is (edited slightly for some really bad grammar I couldn’t abide):

Stories have been an essential part of human communication for thousands of years. From the earliest cave paintings to modern-day films, stories have served as a way to convey meaning, emotion, and information. However, the success of a story depends not only on its content but also on its structure. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of story structure and why it is crucial for any writer or storyteller to master.

What is Story Structure?

Story structure refers to how a story is organized and presented to its audience. It is the framework that gives a story its shape and coherence. A well-structured story has a clear beginning, middle, and end and follows a specific narrative arc that engages the audience and keeps them interested.

The Importance of Story Structure

  1. It helps to create suspense and tension.

A well-structured story keeps the audience engaged by creating suspense and tension. It sets up the conflict, introduces the characters, and builds towards a climax that resolves the conflict. The audience is invested in the outcome, and the tension keeps them on the edge of their seats.

  1. It makes the story easier to follow.

A story with a clear structure is easier for the audience to follow. It guides them through the narrative and helps them understand the relationships between the characters and events. This makes it easier for them to connect with the story and become emotionally invested in the outcome.

  1. It gives the story coherence.

A story with a clear structure has a coherence that satisfies the audience. The events and characters are linked in a way that makes sense, and the resolution of the conflict feels earned. This coherence makes the story feel like a complete and satisfying experience.

  1. It helps the writer to stay on track.

A clear story structure can also help the writer to stay on track. It provides a roadmap for the story and helps the writer avoid getting lost in the details. This can be particularly helpful when working on longer fiction pieces, such as novels, where it is easy to lose sight of the overall narrative.

Elements of Story Structure

There are several elements of story structure that writers should be familiar with:

  1. The Beginning: This is where the story sets up the conflict and introduces the characters.
  2. The Middle: This is where the story develops the conflict, and the characters face obstacles and challenges.
  3. The Climax: This is the high point of the story, where the conflict is resolved.
  4. The End: This is where the story wraps up, and the characters are changed by their experiences.

In addition to these elements, many stories have subplots and secondary conflicts that add depth and complexity to the narrative.


In conclusion, the importance of story structure cannot be overstated. A well-structured story is engaging, easy to follow, and satisfying for the audience. It also helps the writer to stay on track and avoid getting lost in the details. By mastering the elements of story structure, writers can create stories that captivate their audience and leave a lasting impression.

So what do you think? Should I hang it up?

In Defense of Structure

I am predisposed to structure in almost everything.

When I first started writing (Matt’s War — read about it here), I had no idea how traditional story structure worked. I knew there were three Acts, but frankly, I had no idea what each Act consisted of, how to transition between the Acts or how much of the story was made up by each Act.

I had finished Matts’s War’s first draft when I learned how all successful movies and books are structured.

Now I need to be clear, all stories and movies that follow a good structure aren’t successful. The story needs to be good and the characters compelling. But a good story with compelling characters but poorly structured won’t resonate with readers or viewers.

So if story structure is so important, you’d think everyone would jump on it, but some still believe the mere existence of structure means a story is cookie-cutter with no originality.

I mentioned I have a predisposition to structure. I’m an Engineer by education and training. We don’t build something until we have a plan, whether it’s a computer, bridge, or building.

I see story structure as a blueprint. A line drawing of the cabinet you want to make. It contains the necessary elements to make a functional cabinet but leaves a lot up to the cabinet maker (or author). The type of wood, the finish, the quality of the hinges, all of that is up to the maker.

Same with story structure. I go more into it here (and more will be added in the future).

When I learned of this, the scales fell from my eyes. I had to make massive structural edits to Matt’s War. It has some of my best reviews yet.

So to the story structure deniers, deny all you want, but pick any successful book or movie, and I will show you, in detail, its underlying structure.

Book Review: Heritage House

Heritage House: A Cape Breton Mystery

As a transplanted Canadian now living in Australia, the fact this was set in Cape Breton (the island of my birth) was the hook. The characters were familiar, the setting well-drawn, and to my delight, the mystery well-formed.

I understand there are other stories in this series (and I’ll have to look them up), but that doesn’t seem to matter.

The story takes place post-pandemic (referenced a few times for plot reasons) and centres around a murder on Isle Madame, Detective Gordie MacLean’s home turf. Detective MacLean and his junior partner Detective Roxanne Albright are assigned the case. Albright is put in charge (for reasons), and the only reason this isn’t a 5-star review is the reaction MacLean had to this. It felt like forced conflict for the sake of it. Again, I haven’t read the earlier books, so maybe it’s in character.

The story unfolds nicely. The resolution doesn’t require any author sleight of hand — it’s earned. Plenty of legit red herrings and a couple of double bluffs will keep you guessing. And while you might figure out the “who”, you’ll unlikely know the “why” before the author deigns to reveal it.

A definite recommend. I’ll be checking out her other books now.

Book Sprout

I confess to having never heard of these folks before a week ago.

Book Sprout allows readers to find books to read and review, and authors to find readers, and thus reviews. I set up an account a few days ago (a very reasonable monthly subscription), so it’s a little early to say how effective it is, but I’ll be sure to pass on the efficacy after a month or so.

I’ve put my three Nick Harding novels up there if you’re a reader.

Pop by and look me up. And if you check out one or more of my books, be sure to leave a review.

Looking for ARC Readers

Dead Tomorrow will be available on Amazon (eBook) and everywhere in paperback format on May 1. It’s available for pre-order on amazon now (as an eBook) and will be available for pre-order in paperback format in about a week.

I’m looking for avid readers who enjoy a fast-paced crime story to provide ARC reviews on Amazon for me. Got to get that algorithm working for me.

ARC copies are available now. They will be pdf copies. If you’re interested and think you can read (or attempt to read) a 70k book and review it by May 1, please leave a comment below, and we’ll chat, and I’ll send you a personalised copy.

Available now for preorder. Help me kick the Amazon algorithm in the arse. If the description below interests you, please preorder at Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Looking forward to hearing from you all.

A different way to structure stories

About seven or eight years ago, somebody (and I can’t recall who) put forward a “mini-movie” approach to structuring your story.

Just jumping in here to say story structure does not remove creativity. It’s a set of guidelines, much as building design rules are (roof is on the top, windows on the outside walls, basement on the bottom, plumbing not exposed), and every house (except for those suburbs built in the last decade) are different. If you don’t want to use a structure, fine. I find it much easier to plot a story if I have a rough idea of where things should be. And if you say not all stories follow a structure, name one. I’ll show you the inherent structure in a future post.

Aside over.

The scheme is divided into eight roughly equal sections. The first two constitute Act 1, the middle four constitute Act 2, and the final two constitute Act 3. The guidelines for each are as follows:

A couple of dozen words each, offering guidance to the writer on the expected deliverable for each section of your story.

What do you think? I’ve found this handy when I first start thinking about the outline of a new book.

Ten Million

November will be the tenth anniversary of the release of “Unprotected Sax“, one of the ‘Miami Mob’ books.

Playing sax in his friend’s jazz band was supposed to be relaxing.

Then his friend disappeared.

Johnny Delacourte (aka Johnny D The Sax Machine) left the Army Rangers and the battlefields of Afghanistan six months ago.

Then the friend disappears, the cops don’t seem to care, and the Russian mob is all over his ass.

One of the antagonists — the primary antagonist, is a Russian mobster named Vladimir Petrovski. The story doesn’t end well for him. No spoilers, but it was not good.

Early 2023 will see the release of my third Nick Harding case. Tentatively, it’s called “Dead Tomorrow”. (Don’t bank on that title staying. I have a bad habit of changing the title at the last minute.) Petrovski ends up being the big bad in this book, also.

In November, on or about the anniversary date of Unprotected Sax, I’m going to release a 10,000-word short called “Ten Million”. It started as an exercise to build a backstory for “Dead Tomorrow”, but it’s a pretty good yarn, bridging the decade between then and now.

It’ll be a free short story. It’s not a necessary read for “Dead Tomorrow”, but it might help. If you’ve already purchased “Unprotected Sax” as an e-book, this short will be included as an epilogue of sorts. Set your reading device up for automatic updates. It’ll show up sometime in late November. And if that doesn’t work, it’ll be available as a free download on this site, and on all popular and unpopular ebook sites.

Edit: Except for Amazon. Unless someone can tell me how to make a book free on Amazon.

24 Jan 2023: It should be available on Amazon for free once price matching goes into effect.

Apple/iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Amazon