Blakefields Mansion by Jen Smith and Clive West

Blakefields Mansion

Principal category Romance
Word count (approximate pages) 91,000 (222)
In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $4.00

“Romance and intrigue in 1856 Yorkshire”

Autumn 1856 and young and feisty Isabelle Sedgeford runs terrified from Blakefields Mansion, leaving behind her friend Abigail who has fallen in love with a schemer and is being held prisoner for her own protection.

The two girls had expected an introduction to society, and possibly romance, but instead they walked into a hotbed of intrigue which extends far beyond the walls of the grandiose Mansion in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Izzy urgently needs to find someone she can trust. Of the gentlemen, none has yet proved his worth and integrity beyond doubt. Robert appears to be honest, but is undoubtedly devious. The Lord of the Manor and his friend are clearly hiding a secret. The owner of Stonecrest, the adjacent estate, has a blunt character and a dark stain in his past.

Buy in confidence – full ‘No Quibble’ refund if not satisfied.

Blakefields Mansion and its soon-to-be-released sequel, Stonecrest, are realistic historical romances that will draw you into their exciting pages and have you rooting for the Good and True among the many satisfying plot twists.

Do you love the works of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens? If so, Blakefields Mansion is a fresh story with a familiar feel.

Insider View – read a sample completely free-of-charge

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The Road – Feature book on Ask David

Ask David, the top-ranked internet book review site, has just put up a feature article on The Road along with an interview with Clive West, the book’s author.

You can read the full interview on this link.

The Road by Clive West

Hobson’s Choice – Feature book on Ask David

Ask David, the internet book review site, is currently featuring Hobson’s Choice along with an interview with its author, Clive West.

You can read the full interview on this link.

Top 10,000 Books for Hobson’s Choice

Hobson’s Choice & other short stories by Clive West entered the top 10,000 books on Amazon today. This is fantastic news and a recognition of all the effort that went into writing them.

Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy.

Writing short stories for adults

Writing short stories is a quick way to get your work up for sale as a Kindle book on Amazon, however many people make basic mistakes which result in their story getting lousy reviews or just dropping out of sight in the rankings. It’s easily done, and when doing reviews of other works, we’ve seen it over and over again. The problem is that it’s a well-known fact that writing short stories is easy money.


What is true is that writing short stories is a relatively quick way of getting your work out there. Obviously a 5,000 word, 15 to 20 page tale is much quicker to write than a 200,000 word blockbuster. But that doesn’t mean it can be just churned out in a day’s work.

Short stories need more planning per word than a full-length novel because you have a relatively small space to:

  • Paint a picture of the setting
  • Turn the principal protagonists into real people
  • Cover the essential dialogue
  • Create a beginning, a middle and an ending

Just looking at the adult fiction market for a moment (writing short stories for children is a very different kettle of fish because of the different language used, the complexity of the story etc): there are a number of basic mistakes that newbies to the short story genre regularly make. (For the record, non-fiction books are intrinsically different although there is common ground with what I’m going to say now.)

Poor perceived value is the main cause of bad reviews.

You know and I know that the length of a book is no guide to whether it’s any good or not. If someone could produce a 1,000 word short story that guaranteed I could become a bestselling author by next weekend (and delivered the goods), I’d say that was a marvellous purchase which was well worth whatever I paid for it even if that sum were hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

However, your short story just won’t cut it if it’s too short. Don’t take my word for it, read all the book reviews on Amazon which grumble about ‘how I paid good money for something that could have been written on the back of a postcard’. The problem may well lie with Amazon’s insistence that a minimum price of $0.99 is charged but they’re a multi-national corporation with a billion dollar turnover. The rules aren’t going to change because you or I want them to therefore we need to learn to live with them.

Think of the customer and their point of view for a moment. They’ve shelled out just over a dollar (more when you include tax and Amazon’s handling fees) and they’ve got a mere couple of pages back. They then peruse this in a few minutes, feel embarrassed and angry that they’ve been duped and tell everyone that you ripped them off. They’ll never buy from you again and you’ll probably get a stinging review.


The lesson to be learnt is to have a minimum of about 5,000 words in every individual piece you put up for sale or put several stories together but try not to mix the genres or you’ll end up appealing to no-one.

Now I want to look at the way the short story’s written.

You’ve got an idea for a story and the ending’s clear in your head. Think about it: how do you get to that ending?

The next batch of traps are favourite ones into which even experienced authors can fall.

Muddled storyline

As I’ve already said, one of the problems of the short story genre is the issue of ‘getting it all said in a small space’. Even a ‘long’ short story will only be about 10,000 words – that’s not much for a complex storyline.

As a result, authors often try to turn their short story into a mini-novel but that simply doesn’t work. A short story has to take just one idea and run with it. You can’t normally get away with multiple threads and complex stories – if you put them in, they’ll only end up making the tale confusing.

Look at the name of the genre – twist-in-the-tail. A tail is a long, thin object which usually has a bend in it. Likewise, your story must be tight but not too straight and linear. Don’t try and introduce forks and parallel threads unless the whole point of the story is the existence of these threads.

Deus ex machina

The notion of not resorting to such a device dates back to the Ancient Greek poet, Horace and you could be forgiven for thinking such a well-established no-no would be a thing of the past. Not so.Hollywood uses it all the time in films (but they have multi-million dollar advertising budgets behind them that can overcome bad publicity and still make people queue to pay – you don’t have this kind of cash).

Examples of deus ex machina might be:

  • Waiting on a station platform in a far-off country, having narrowly missed the train you wanted to catch and then suddenly bumping into your childhood sweetheart.
  • Being desperate for cash, using your last bit of small change to buy a lottery ticket and then suddenly winning.
  • Your lead character finding out he or she is the son/daughter of the bigwig they’re trying to extort money from.
  • A la James Bond style, your specially equipped car having ‘just the right gadget’ to catch the bad guys off guard.
  • Your hero fortuitously spouting fluent Arabic in a tight situation because when he was a boy he had a nanny fromMorocco.

… and so on. Yes, of course in real life you might just be fortunate enough to have this happen to you, but unless you are writing a biography (where it did actually take place) or doing a parody of the Super-Hero stuff, don’t go there.

Reliance on revealed knowledge

To my mind, this is even more naff although there are some reading this that might argue that it’s really just another form of deus ex machina. The way it works is that the story is resolved by (usually) the main protagonist suddenly revealing knowledge that they’ve possessed all along.

It’s a standard plot device for the worst type of ‘mystery’. There isn’t really any mystery – it’s just a secret that the writer’s not letting on about in order to make an unexciting tale appear exciting.

Now, if the story is written from the perspective of just one character, then this might not be an issue. It’s perfectly fair comment to not know something that no-one’s told you or that you’ve not discovered. It would be bizarre otherwise.

However most short stories are seen from an omniscient viewpoint (because it makes them easier to write) and, since omniscient means ‘all-knowing’, how could the narrator not know something that one of the characters knows? That’s completely illogical.

Mixing genres

A short story needs to have its own genre just like a novel. It’s almost certainly not big enough to cope with a blend of genres. Thus, a full-length novel about sharp-shooting cowboys who came from outer space is one thing but doing that in a short story will only confuse the few readers who choose to buy it.

Mixing genres also makes a short story very difficult to fit into an anthology. These have to be finely balanced with each story complementing the others and a slapstick comedy-zombie-romance is not going to be easy to place, no matter how beautifully it’s been written.

In conclusion

These are just some of the main points to consider when writing short stories however hopefully it will give you an idea of what it entails and the main pitfalls to avoid.

The most important thing, of course, is that it has to be an enjoyable experience for the reader. This has the best chance of happening if you stick to the rules set out above.

About the writer

Apart from being a director of Any Subject Ltd, Clive West is also the author of an anthology of twist-in-the-tail short stories called Hobson’s Choice which can be purchased from Amazon.

The Road

The Road

Principal category Crime
Word count (approximate pages) 157,000 (532)
In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $3.00

Every crime has a victim!

This novel is set about the fictitious town of Stockton and involves the building of a new road – an event which brings out the worst in an array of differing characters with equally different agendas.

Corruption is as old as the hills but many people don’t or won’t see that even the smallest ‘bad cough’ or ‘patting of one’s back pocket’ can have far-reaching consequences. If you think we’ve got a democracy, this book will open your eyes to what really goes on. Yet, despite that, it is not political – it’s a very human tale of how the countryside is being exploited for everyone’s gain. Everyone, that is, except the public.

Henry, our main character, is a town planner. He has a miserable marriage, children who just see him as a no-limit credit card, and a toadying boss who is obsessed with pointless minutiae and the feathering of his own nest through social climbing. One day Henry spots an opportunity for escape and …

Buy in confidence – full ‘No Quibble’ refund if not satisfied.

Along the way, we meet the family whose dream house in the country loses its adjacent green fields in return for acquiring the family from hell as neighbours. We also get to understand why a waste disposal worker might turn a blind eye to the tipping of some asbestos, and how the law can be taken advantage of to make money.

We also meet someone who manages to turn personal tragedy into a new beginning.

Insider View – read a sample completely free-of-charge

You will find humour, disaster, greed, lust, sloth and just about every sin and emotion you care to imagine.

The Road is a blockbuster story with many dramatic turns. It is based on extensive personal experience and, although the characters are not directly related to any one individual, they are realistic.

Buy ‘The Road’ and be prepared to laugh, cry, and bash the living daylights out of a cushion or pillow as you seethe with rage at some of the injustices.

BUY The Road by Clive West for only $3.00

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Find a job and get it

Find a job and get it

 Principal category Business
 Word count (approximate pages) 2,500 (15)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $1.50

Take charge of those job interviews!

Have you ever sat in a job interview wishing that the ground would open up in front of you? You know with absolute confidence that you haven’t a cat in hell’s chance of getting an offer so why wait and prolong the agony?

I was like that once, a long time ago. After a particularly unpleasant session (for which I was unsurprisingly unsuccessful), I started piecing together some rules about applying for jobs and how to handle myself in the interview. It was a mish-mash of psychology, body language, ‘primed’ questions (expecting the answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’) and good preparation.

Buy in confidence – full ‘No Quibble’ refund if not completely satisfied

Years of working as a director of a national recruitment agency honed these rules into six basic ones. If you follow these, in most cases (I can’t give you a 100% guarantee – sorry), you will be the pro-active element in the interview and this will let you take the lead. Once you have this, you can control the interview questions and this means that you can get yourself seen in the best possible light. Additionally, it will demonstrate real leadership qualities.

That dream job is just a couple of clicks away!

Insider View – read the first chapter as a PDF completely free-of-charge

BUY Job Interview Success by Clive West for only $1.50

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Lymphedema – Living with the disease

Lymphedema - Living with the disease

 Principal category Health
 Word count (approximate pages) 6,400 (22)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $1.50

A minority among millions – lymphedema is a terrible and misunderstood illness

I’ve suffered with lymphedema ever since a bad car crash 20 years ago. The doctors in the UK had absolutely no idea what it was or how it could be treated. The net result was that I was subjected to a great deal more misery than was necessary as well as giving the disease time to get established to such a level as that it is now incurable.

My first visit to a lymphedema clinic was strange and, because I had no idea about what was involved, I was very badly prepared. After 6 weeks I was climbing up the wall. Nowadays, I go prepared and the stay is much more beneficial and comfortable. I’ve put what I’ve learnt into this booklet which I hope will prove an invaluable to anyone finding themselves in my position. I’ve also written the book from the point of view of trying to help sufferers keep down the price of this expensive treatment which often comes with numerous hidden extras.

Insider View – read the first chapter as a PDF completely free-of-charge

With some 250m people suffering from lymphedema and this, with its propensity for creating massive weight gain and intense lymphatic fevers, it begs the question, “Why don’t most doctors know about it?”. I don’t suppose this book will be particularly welcome by the medical profession because it’s plain English and easy-to-understand advice means that it is really aimed at the ordinary person and helping make sure that they don’t get overlooked like I was.

BUY Lymphedema – Living with the Disease by Clive West for only $1.50

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Hobson’s Choice & 15 other twist in the tail stories

Hobson's Choice

 Principal category Short Stories
 Word count (approximate pages) 49,000 (160)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $2.99

You won’t see the twists coming

Here are 16 short stories which will have you thinking, clenching your teeth, tut-tutting and laughing. With a charming selection of genuinely venomous and duplicitous characters, self-seekers, jealous neighbours, and other no-gooders, you will be spoilt for choice about who and when to boo. Not only that, the stories have real twists in them – you think you’ve got it sussed and it turns out that your conclusion was too hastily arrived at.

Buy in confidence – full ‘No Quibble’ refund if not completely satisfied

The title story is bound to have an effect on you. Its style and content are original and, without wishing to give it away, it’s that part which will leave you troubled. It’s certainly a story to re-read, too, as you will get even more things out of it second time around.

Stories like The Watcher or the much gentler Lost will catch you out with their endings while A Good Education and Moving Up will have you booing and hissing at the main protagonists.

In all the stories, you will find humour, pathos, a strong and plausible plot and well-developed characters.

Insider View – read the first chapter as a PDF completely free-of-charge

BUY Hobson’s Choice & 15 other twist-in-the-tail stories by Clive West for only $2.99

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