The lowest I can price my books on Amazon is 99 cents. In the UK and Eurozone, because of VAT, they price match to 0.99 (pounds or Euros). In other shops- India, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Canada- it matches the local currency. But, in all those places, I could price them lower. So, I just went through my catalogue and lowered the prices of my cheapest books. The following are now available at bargain prices, if you’re in the right place-
You can now get Tiger in epub and other formats from Smashwords. Perfect for anyone with an ebook reader that isn’t a Kindle (though they do it in Kindle’s .mobi format as well.)
Tiger is now available from Lulu.com as a PDF format ebook, for those of you unable to read it in Kindle format.
Now I just have to learn how to produce it in EPUB format and I’ll have covered the most common ebook formats.
Today is the official launch of Tiger for the Kindle ebook. You can buy it from Amazon UK or Amazon US. And don’t worry if you don’t have a Kindle, there’s software to let you read the format on PC, iPod/iPad/iPhone and Android phones.
A PDF version, available through different outlets, should be out in the next week and then I shall be learning how to format EPUB files, which should put it in the iBookshop. Finally there’s a service from Smashwords which should convert it to all remaining ebook formats. World domination shall ensue.
The next release for Kindle shall be Sounds Of Soldiers. I’m scheduling this for the start of next month because I’m going to redo the cover. I’ve got the concept sorted, I just need to collect the bits and pieces I shall need. The art will involve a diorama, photographed and lightly photoshopped. The original art- the model- will be offered as a prize in a competition to promote the book launch. More details on that as it develops.
The next Irwin story will probably be A Death In Didsbury, which I have started working on. When I know the shape of the story better I’ll be able to set a publishing deadline, but I’m aiming for December at the moment. Depending upon how one of the plot strands works out I already have a strong idea of what I want to do for the cover. If I go with my current concept there’ll be another win-the-cover-art competition.
My final publishing project at the moment is Heavensent, the part dieselpunk (I called it propellerpunk, but that didn’t catch on), part space opera tale I wrote a few years ago. I need to clear up the geography of the various strands of the tale, possibly shuffle scenes around and write more of it. I may drop it all into a program called yWriter to make this all easier.
I’ve got a lot of stuff to keep me busy over the next few months. Guess I’d better go and do some of it.
The official launch day is Friday, but Tiger is now available on Amazon.
I wasn’t happy with the covers I designed for Post & Publish and Sounds of Soldiers. I rushed them out to get stuff published. So I’m going to do something better for Tiger, which will be published some time next month. The netbook and cup of tea allude to the scene near the beginning where Irwin is sitting in a coffee shop being a bit bored. Continuity wise he didn’t even have his gun with him at that point, let alone laid on the table, but I’m claiming artistic licence.
The image should probably be rotated so the edge of the netbook is square with the edges of the cover, and I’ll probably try a few more lettering options. What do you think?
Jed answered his mobile phone. “Hello there hero.”
“All cleared up at your end then?” Irwin asked.
“Two kidnappers cable tied and sedated and ready for a discreet journey back to Blighty.”
“And all with an hour and a half to spare.”
“Is that all? You’re getting slow. Retirement’s making you rusty.”
“Your Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me.”
“I’m sure they don’t. Next time I need some help in your neck of the woods…”
“You’ll call someone else.”
“Stay safe old boy.”
Irwin put the work phone away. Police vans had arrived to take away the kidnappers, and a car was waiting to whisk Karen and Simon Edwards home. Kay had worked her way out of the crowd and walked over. “Are we going to get a visit from secret intelligence thugs to magic those guys away?”
“Probably. They could be a mine of intel.”
“We could do with something to show for all of this.”
“You have a car thief. They’ll probably let you keep him.” Kay made a dismissive noise. “And the people smugglers you found.”
“Crumbs. But I guess they’ll look good on someone’s spreadsheet.”
Irwin was studying the moped. He realised he still had the helmet on. “I don’t seem to have damaged this. Let’s get it back to Bootle Street and give it back to Gloria.”
“You do it.” Kay handed him her helmet. “You’re far too dangerous. I think I’d rather walk.”
Irwin was conscious of a man with a gun standing beside him, aiming at the man in the back of the van. “You’d best be allowed that toy,” the black clad Police officer hissed, “or there’ll be a shit storm.”
There was a clatter of something being dropped inside the van. Then the side door was pulled open. The gunman in the doorway looked around. The woman took the chance to pull loose from his grip and dive out of the van.
Kay was standing by the front passenger door when the side door opened. A small, struggling body was tossed out to land and roll on the grass. The man who had thrown the boy out found his exit was less graceful than he’d expected, as Kay grabbed him and pulled him off balance to land face first on the ground.
“Put the gun down and get your hands above your head!” the armed officer shouted.
The gunman in the back of the van looked, very briefly, like he wouldn’t comply. The slightest move from the armed officer made him flinch and then he was slowly putting the gun down and getting out of the van.
Armed officers swarmed around the three kidnappers. Karen Edwards sat up slowly. “Where’s Simon? Where’s my son?”
“He’s here.” Kay was carrying the boy as best she could, but it was the clumsy, over careful hold of someone who doesn’t spend much time around children. “He was very brave. He didn’t cry at all.” She handed the confused little boy over to his mother then held up a mobile phone. “Would you like to speak with your husband?”
The serialisation of Tiger will wrap up soon. The story presented here for the last few weeks was the first draft. I have done some light revision already and I’m on to what I’m calling draft 1.1, not a full second draft, but starting on the way there. I have uploaded, and you can read, draft 1.1. Simply right click on the link and Save As (I’m sorry Mac users, but I can’t remember how you do that, I’m sure you do). It’s in Rich Text Format, so just about everything should be able to read it.
I’d appreciate feedback so I can make the final draft as good as possible, please use the email address given in the file. I don’t have a tight deadline for publication, but it will be early October, so if you have anything to say, please say it soon.
Vanessa waved to Jed then pointed at the wall. The message was obvious, they were getting another phone call next door. It wasn’t on schedule. Jed headed for the door. Terence and William followed.
The Jedi fished a card key from his pocket. When he reached the door to the adjoining room he slid the card into the slot but didn’t pull it out again. He knocked on the door then stepped aside. William took his place.
Jed could hear snatches of conversation from inside the room. “What do you….. Get the fucking door will you….. If this is them, they’re early.” Jed nodded to William, who pulled out the card key and swung the door open. He didn’t quite catch the man who had been coming to answer the knock, but he did surprise him and put him off balance. William grabbed the shocked kidnapper in a bear hug, lifted him off the floor and let himself tumble and take him to the ground. William’s full mass landed hard on the man, who couldn’t even summon up enough breath to shout out.
At the end of the room’s double bed a second man had a phone in one hand and pistol in the other. Terence stepped over William and his victim and raised and fired his taser in one easy move. Jed had hardly had the time to count to three and the threats were neutralised. He walked over to the man convulsing at the foot of the bed and pried the phone from his hand. “Are you still there?” he asked.
“Who are you?”
“I’m with MI6. Give up now and you’ll live.”
Other fiction by Ian Pattinson
The van’s front right wheel, the rim damaged when it hit the kerb, was flat by the time it reached the top of the hill. Still with a lead on the moped, it turned left down a side road. Which turned out to be a dead end. They faced an open space that a fully inflated car could have crossed, but the van crunched to a halt.
Back down the road Irwin pulled the moped to a halt. He even took the time to deploy the kickstand before dismounting. He and Kay drew their guns, but then they hesitated. “I’ll go first,” Kay volunteered, “I’ve got a vest on.”
“I’m not arguing with that.” Irwin looked around. They were drawing a crowd. “Armed Police! Please go indoors!” Some of the crowd even did as he said.
“I’m supposed to say that.” Kay raised her gun and aimed in the general direction of the van. “What are we supposed to do? They’ll just use the hostages.”
“Let’s keep them occupied until Armed Response get their act together.” He raised his gun, but kept his finger outside the trigger guard.
Irwin headed to the left and Kay to the right then they moved in as a pincer toward the van. Down the hill the Armed Response Range Rover’s siren stopped blaring.
The van’s driver’s door opened. Kay’s pistol twitched around until it was aimed at the figure that was revealed. The teenager already had his hands above his head. “Come out slowly.” Kay commanded. He slid from the seat, almost tumbling when he didn’t reach out for any hand holds. “Face down on the ground, hands behind your head.”
Whilst Kay dealt with the driver the rear doors opened. Half standing in the opening was a woman being held in place by a man with a very big handgun. Behind them Irwin could see another figure in the farthest corner of the load area. He was holding tight to a child. Irwin’s finger slid inside the trigger guard.
“You just killed her husband.” the man in the door announced.
“Right. How do you think we got on to you?”
Kay had moved closer to the driver, so she could stare into the van. The front seats were empty, and a partition separated them from the cargo area. The Armed Response Range Rover finally pulled into the road with dramatic tyre squealing. “Behave,” Kay told the driver, “they’re armed too.” the driver nodded and she carried on round the front of the van.
“Have you made the call?” the man with the big gun asked.
“I’m making it. I’m making it.” his companion replied. “They’re not picking up.”
“They’re coming to us!” Kay shouted into Irwin’s helmet.
“On this road?”
“Any backup on its way?”
“Somewhere. I’m getting nothing on how far away they are, though.”
Irwin had slowed the moped to a sedate pace. Relatively new housing hemmed them in as they headed downhill. Ahead they could see the road flatten then rise again up to the stadium at the top of the hill. In the line of traffic heading toward them there was one white van. “I’ll pass them and swing round behind them.” Irwin announced.
“We’ll think of something.”
They passed a K-junction just before the bottom of the hill, with two roads heading off to their left. Heading up the hill they passed the van coming the other way. “That’s the reg.” Kay said.
Irwin nodded. He carried on a little further then stopped, ready to swing across the road and change lanes. Two cars passed them, then there was a gap. However, before Irwin started turning, they both turned to look in the direction of sirens sounding back up the road.
“Oh shit. This is going to give us away.” Kay pulled the microphone on her helmet close to her mouth and shouted, “Armed Response are going to screw this up! Get them to turn off, make it look like they’re going somewhere else!”
Too late. The van wiggled across the road, then abruptly stopped. Kay reached for her gun, but before she reached it the van was accelerating again. It swung into the oncoming traffic, clipping the rear corner of a Mini, which skidded, over compensated and ended up driving off the road just behind Kay and Irwin. “Bollocks!” Irwin opened the throttle and hauled the moped around as sharply as he could manage then raced along the centre line after the van.
With a crunch the van mounted the kerb as it aimed for the first street off the junction. An oncoming car braked hard, then jumped forward as it was hit by the lorry which had been following too close behind. Irwin swerved around the front of the car and squeezed past it to the junction. Behind the lorry the Armed Response Range Rover was trapped, trying to find a gap large enough for it.
The van and the moped which followed it- neither of them the greatest of accelerators- started a slow drag race up the hill.
The helicopter flew beyond the City of Manchester stadium and turned to survey the surrounding area. It went as far east as the grand, run down Philips Park cemetery then came back to study the traffic on the wide Hulme Hall Lane and Alan Turing Way. With no clues from the ground it was going to be a hard time finding the white van they sought. There were several, heading in multiple directions, any of which could be the one they should be following. They called in vans as they spotted them and waited for some plod on the pavement to spot the target.
The call came from an officer on a bicycle, who had just popped up from patrolling nearby canal towpaths to have a look around. The van was heading southeast, toward the junction by the City ground. The eye in the sky acknowledged the call and took up a viewing position.
The van turned right, heading down another side of the football stadium and toward the city centre again. The helicopter dipped its nose and headed in roughly the same direction.
Other fiction by Ian Pattinson
The Mancunian Way is a stretch of raised motorway arcing around the south of Manchester city centre. Irwin was pushing the scooter along it as fast as it would go. Far faster than some of the cars they passed would have expected. With such small wheels the bike was going to be thrown by the slightest bump or pothole, so he tried to ignore everything else but navigating safely. The work phone buzzing against his chest was one distraction in particular that he had to ignore. The Jedi would have to wait.
The road angled down, and the terrain rose to meet it, and they were no longer on the section classed as motorway. Irwin slowed as the surface became less even and they swept through a long left hander to a long arch under the railway. He slowed more as he spotted red lights at the junction ahead. When they came to a halt he turned on the saddle, “Where to next?”
“The Manchester City ground. That’s where they were last seen.” They both looked up as they heard the helicopter pass overhead. “That should make things easier. Green light, go.”
It was coming up to the next deadline for a call in. Jed checked his gun for the tenth time in as many minutes. He wasn’t about to use it unless absolutely necessary. Bloodshed would be so hard to explain, and as he didn’t have a suppressor, so much harder to keep quiet. At the table by the window Terence checked a far more useful weapon. He popped a battery pack from the charger and swapped out the perfectly good one which had been in the taser he’d been issued. Across from Terence, William was doing stretches, limbering up the large frame which had been born for rugger but had adapted surprisingly well to a mix of martial arts. When it came time to enter the room these two would do the violent work. The fourth member of the team was Vanessa, lounging in front of the receiver on the dressing table, garish Skullcandy hi-fi quality headphones blocking out any external noise and indifference shielding her from the smell of three tense men in a warm closed room.
Jed took his phone into the bathroom. With no adjoining wall to the room they were watching there was less chance of being heard by the subjects. He speed dialled Irwin’s number, and listened to it ring and ring. Was this a good sign? Was Irwin too busy saving hostages to pick up his phone? Or had something gone wrong?
Vanessa clicked her fingers to get Jed’s attention. When he walked over she held out the plain, and far less comfortable, standard issue headphones which had come with the listening equipment.
Notes Well, the first draft of Tiger is finished and I have sent it to a couple of people who foolishly agreed to proofread and continuity check for me. I’ve decided that the published version will have bonus features, much like a DVD. Exactly what these are I haven’t yet decided, but there will probably be two versions of the tale in the ebook file. One will just be the prose, the other will have links to authorial comments, maps, photos and maybe web pages with further information. The Kindle can browse, but it won’t be so good for photographic content because the screen is greyscale. However, other readers shouldn’t have this problem.
Skullcandy headphones are wonderful, garish things. My employers sell them, but I haven’t yet been able to do a test of a pair to see how good they are. I gave Vanessa a pair as much because they do an Agent range as anything else.
“What? Hold on a moment.” Kay leaned forward and shouted into Irwin’s helmet, “Turn around!”
“Turn around! Wrong van!”
“I think this evening we may need to take your DWP friends out for a few drinks. We just raided a forgery factory, complete with three trafficked women in a back room. James thinks they’re speaking Czech, but he’s not really sure.”
“But not the wife and child.”
“Time to look at the other van. We’ll head for Ancoats and…… What the Fuck?”
They had been heading along Regent Road toward Eccles New Road and the industrial unit. It was dual carriageway with crash barriers separating the opposite flows of traffic, so an easy turn was out of the question. Irwin had braked hard as they approached a junction and thrown the scooter into a harsh U-turn, pitching it so far over that the bottom of the fairing almost scraped the ground. A dab of his foot on tarmac had kept them from toppling, but only just. Now, to a backing track of car horns, he was accelerating toward town again as fast as the squealing engine would allow.
“Are you alright? What was that?”
“An idiot in charge of a moped. I’ll tell traffic about him later. We’re heading for Ancoats now. Any update on the other van’s location?”
“Last seen heading for the City stadium. The helicopter will be there soon, we’ll patch them through to you, see if they can vector you in.”
“No uniform in the area?”
“None armed. We’ll have as many as possible to back you up if we don’t get there in time.”
“Okay. Got to give directions now.”
“Ancoats?” Irwin suggested before she’d had a chance to tell him.
“Ancoats. As fast as this thing will take us.”
Other fiction by Ian Pattinson
“If we carry on going around the block they’ll spot us and get suspicious.” the young Detective Constable commented.
“I guess so, James.” the DI agreed, “Pull in over there and get the A to Z out. We’ll play at being lost for a while.”
James turned the unmarked car smartly into the spot the DI had pointed out. He killed the engine and fished in the door pocket for the street guide. Flicking through to the appropriate page he mused, “Do people still use these? I can get all the maps I need on my phone.”
“Some of us don’t like technology. I can hardly use text.”
“They’ve opened the shutters over the personnel door, but not the loading bay.” James observed.
“That’s not going to be easy to enter quickly.” the DI leant forward in his seat and stared upwards to see the helicopter he’d just heard. “The eye in the sky’s here. You get through to their controllers and I shall find out where the men with the guns are.”
Four armed officers were in an unmarked van one street further on, waiting for an entry team- with their battering ram to clear the door quickly- to turn up. Meanwhile, the helicopter was making wide, circling passes of the tram stop further down Eccles New Road but keeping its cameras focused on the industrial unit. Their infra red camera told them there was a huddle of bodies just inside the loading bay and another two or three in the room farthest from the road.
James and the DI passed information back and forth between the armed officers and the helicopter until the entry team turned up. “Okay. Go when you’re ready.” the DI ordered.
A minute later two vans pulled up in the car park of the unit next to the target. Armoured and helmeted officers jumped out of the vans and formed up on the largest of their group, who hefted a large tube with handles at one end and in the middle. They sneaked along the wall to the door, where the officer with the club took a step back and swung it. As the door gave way on the second swing James and the DI stepped out of the car and headed for the action.
By the time The DI and James had reached the shattered door of the unit the armed officers had swept through it and subdued all the occupants. Five men were sat at a long table in the loading bay with their hands on their heads. An officer escorted three young women from another room. “No sign of the hostages?”
“No sir.” responded the man with the hammer.
James was by the table, turning over items of paperwork the men had been working on. “I don’t know if it’s any consolation, sir, but…” he held up a passport, the space where there should have been an image of the subject was empty.
“Collateral success.” the DI sighed. He took out his phone and called up Kay.
“I thought you could ride one of these!” Kay shouted.
“I can. It’s just been a while.” Irwin had just rescued the moped from toppling over at the traffic lights. He’d misjudged the balance of the bike and hadn’t put a foot out fast enough when he’d stopped.
Whilst they waited for the lights to change Irwin fiddled with the strap of the open face helmet he wore. Kay released her safety grip on him and tried out the bluetooth connection from her phone to her helmet. She could hear ringing, but it was a bit distant. She adjusted the microphone so it was closer to her mouth.
“We’ve got them tracked down to an industrial unit just off Eccles New Road.” the DI announced when he picked up the phone, no time for formalities. “We’re going in as soon as armed response get here.”
“We’ll be there as soon as we can.” Kay tapped the side of Irwin’s helmet and announced, “Eccles New Road.” when he turned toward her. He nodded, and started working out which way he should go when the lights went green.
“What about the other van?” Kay asked, “Just in case.”
“No report on that since it was spotted near Ancoats. The call’s still out on it, so we’ll find it again soon enough.”
“We’ll be with you soon. Or he’ll crash this bloody thing and we’ll be in hospital.”
The lights changed. Irwin set off, turning left as he did. The moped wobbled at low speed and there was a moment again where it seemed they were going to fall. The problem was that he was being too timid, Irwin decided. He twisted the throttle hard and the little bike leapt forward with a pained revving. Kay hung up before her boss could hear the language she let loose.
Jeremy Simpson nodded approval at Irwin’s memory. A call to MI6’s headquarters on the banks of the Thames- the striking building known as Legoland to many of its occupants- had returned sparse electronic notes which fleshed out Irwin’s recall. There had been, in the late nineties to mid noughties, a series of disappearances amongst the world’s disreputable club of arms dealers. Rumours had abounded, including one that they had all been victims of a gang of thieves.
With so many of the transactions conducted in cash, and occasionally diamonds or other easily transportable valuables, it was hard to track them. If anyone off the watch list came into possession of such booty, and were disciplined enough, the trail could go cold very quickly. So there was little to back up any of the theories about the retirement of any gun smugglers and it was generally notched up as one less bad guy. The disappearances had tailed off in the last few years. Until a report from January of an arms dealer and his family found in a bullet riddled Range Rover in Miami after rumours that an associate had ripped off a major client and promptly disappeared.
If the associate had been hijacked and killed then a large deal would have fallen through. There was no arbitration on the darker edges of the arms trade. The client wasn’t likely to sit down and try to work out a deal, they’d most often draw a gun.
So, were the pair next door part, or all, of a gang which had targeted arms dealers and stolen from them and their clients? In one way it was a dangerous trade to be in, the dead family in Miami was evidence of what happened to people who found they’d upset warlords or terrorists. In another way it was quite safe- who was going to tell the authorities that they’d been robbed whilst carrying out an illegal trade. So long as their victims remained in the dark about the identity of their robbers the gang could move relatively safely.
If this gang was able to target big deals, and they certainly had today, they must have access to some high level intelligence. If they could be made to talk they would be one hell of an asset. The gain would be so much more than Jed had hoped to get from the deal they had crashed. He was already working out how to get them out of the country- it wouldn’t do to give the French intelligence this valuable- and what sort of deals or threats would get the best information out of them. Jed wondered whether it might be worth abandoning the planned deal just to sweep these guys up quickly. The dark part of him started calculating the intelligence benefits against the loss of Williams’ wife and child.
Jed had a conscience, but he sometimes asked it to look the other way. This wasn’t yet one of those times. Irwin was good, he might recover Karen and Simon Williams. But even if he didn’t the two men holding Gerry Williams weren’t leaving the hotel free. Jed smiled. He was trying, by proxy, to do the right thing and save two innocent lives. But even if he failed at that he’d still come out of the day with far more than he’d expected going in.
Other fiction by Ian Pattinson