Simon Says

Simon Says is my monthly readers' group communiqué. Sign up for the group if you want your copy delivered directly to your inbox.

9 August 2022 » communiqué 070

The Long Goodbye is a good movie. But what makes takes the movie from simply being good, to being excellent is the music. To my ear, this movie has one of the best scores…but then it was composed by John Williams.

12 July 2022 » communiqué 069

A look at film noir—where it started, and how we feel its influence in movies and novels.

14 June 2022 » communiqué 068

We Own This City is the new series from David Simon, the creator of The Wire. It sees a return to the Baltimore Police Department, but twenty years later, and twenty years worse.

10 May 2022 » communiqué 067

Can’t change the facts… Maybe you can change the context?

12 April 2022 » communiqué 066

For the wronged, the vengeful, and anyone who wants to criticize, the roman à clef is a great tool. But what is a roman à clef, and who do you think is worthy of a deniable public scorn?

8 March 2022 » communiqué 065

Is it a crime to break the rules of crime fiction?

8 February 2022 » communiqué 064

Have you caught the Wordle bug yet? If not, then maybe it’s time to find what everyone else is talking about.

11 January 2022 » communiqué 063

New Year is often the time we look to make changes. But why do we make changes, whether at New Year or any other time?

14 December 2021 » communiqué 062

Showtrial has all the elements of a plodding police procedural. However, what could be a pedestrian story is elevated to something quite special and is worth watching.

9 November 2021 » communiqué 061

When I write a novel set in the present day, I want to avoid details that seem normal today, but which will age badly, becoming so obsolete that they make no sense to future readers.

12 October 2021 » communiqué 060

It’s easy to finish a book and throw it aside, never to return. But let me make the case for rereading books.

14 September 2021 » communiqué 059

The Appeal by Janice Hallett is a story told through emails, text messages, Post-it Notes, newspaper articles, reports by lawyers, and police interview transcripts. It’s a good book, but the approach is an interesting way to tell a story.

10 August 2021 » communiqué 058

Have you ever wondered how you can avoid online surveillance? One tool that can help you maintain your online privacy in Tails OS. It’s not for everyday use, but for some people, using Tails is literally a matter of life and death.

13 July 2021 » communiqué 057

Guns, bullets and other things the movies get wrong.

8 June 2021 » communiqué 056

If you haven’t seen The Big Lebowski, where the heck have you been since 1998?!? Go and watch it now. And if you’ve already seen it, then you should go and watch it again, several times…

11 May 2021 » communiqué 055

Markdown is a way to add styling and formatting to a document (headings, bold, italics, and more), but those markings are shown in the text. This approach offers advantages, not least the writer’s intent doesn’t get lost when text is copied.

13 April 2021 » communiqué 054

Have you been watching Spiral? The eighth (and final) season was broadcast earlier this year. If you haven’t seen it, perhaps I can persuade you to visit the darker side of Paris…

9 March 2021 » communiqué 053

We live in a secular age, but we’re still very tribal, and we still seek comfort and certainty with daily rituals.

9 February 2021 » communiqué 052

One of the most illogical aspects of the English language is that many words are not spelled as they are pronounced. I have solution…

12 January 2021 » communiqué 051

Recently, for the first time in fifteen years, I made a change to one of the key pieces of kit I use every day for my writing—I got a new keyboard. Now I would like to introduce you to the Moonlander.

8 December 2020 » communiqué 050

2020 didn’t turn out as we expected. While the year has been quite dark for many, there has been much to be very positive about.

10 November 2020 » communiqué 049

Text expanders are utilitarian tools that make each day a little bit easier, and anything that makes each day a bit better must be good.

13 October 2020 » communiqué 048

The first scene is literally the first thing a reader will read after they have committed to trying a book. The first scene has one single purpose—to draw a reader into a book. So what makes a good first scene?

8 September 2020 » communiqué 047

Listening to audiobooks is a primeval activity, hardwired into our psyche by our ancestors who sat around a camp fire listening to stories. If you haven’t already listened to an audiobook, maybe now is the time.

11 August 2020 » communiqué 046

Human beings are terrible at identifying, assessing, and managing risk. For a fiction writer, this human shortcoming is a great source of material.

14 July 2020 » communiqué 045

People used to want your money. Now they want your attention and they want your attention so they can make money. Perhaps the best reaction to the demand for your attention is simply to reach for the off switch.

9 June 2020 » communiqué 044

Writing, and finding the right pen.

12 May 2020 » communiqué 043

There is much to be said for the acquisition of wealth, but what are the consequences that flow from having wealth?

14 April 2020 » communiqué 042

Living in changed times.

10 March 2020 » communiqué 041

What is usury, why do we care about it, and why is a fiction writer interested in the notion?

11 February 2020 » communiqué 040

How do we stay in contact, especially under the most challenging circumstances?

14 January 2020 » communiqué 039

Why do we tell stories and why do we listen to stories?

10 December 2019 » communiqué 038

Baby Driver and The Irishman; the things we do to protect those we love, and the consequences of the choices we make.

12 November 2019 » communiqué 037

A return to Pollute the Poor. Podcasts: what to check out, the ethics of true crime podcasts, and how to listen to podcasts.

8 October 2019 » communiqué 036

Where do the ideas come from and which ideas then get chosen to become part of a story?

10 September 2019 » communiqué 035

Can you make yourself lucky? Renée Ballard, a new series character from Michael Connelly. LAPD internal politics.

13 August 2019 » communiqué 034

Let me tell you about some of the books I read in the first half of 2019 that I thought were great and which I think you’ll really enjoy.

9 July 2019 » communiqué 033

When Clementina met Liam Glass. Sometimes we tell lies with the best of intentions but usually our motives are less pure. Killing Eve, is season two as good as the first?

11 June 2019 » communiqué 032

Crime as a lens. Refusing to listen to advice. Heading back to watch TV.

14 May 2019 » communiqué 031

Looking and seeing to show and hide. Thank you. After the fire.

9 April 2019 » communiqué 030

Picking favorites. Currency, value, and living off the grid. More documentaries.

12 March 2019 » communiqué 029

Looking at the world afresh. Surrey Hills. Tattoo Your Name on My Heart. A gothic revival mortuary chapel.

12 February 2019 » communiqué 028

Frederick Forsyth’s latest book, The Fox. In case of disaster. Closer to the edit

8 January 2019 » communiqué 027

The Day of the Jackal—a great book and a film that is as good as the book. Who have I been talking about? I told you to watch Killing Eve.

11 December 2018 » communiqué 026

Music: Antonio Lauro, Leathan Wilkey’s soundtrack, and John Martyn.

13 November 2018 » communiqué 025

Killing Eve. The physics of story telling. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.

9 October 2018 » communiqué 024

How we use words when we want to influence. Choosing the right keyboard. Setting up a comfortable work environment.

11 September 2018 » communiqué 023

A small presentational change. A DVR for your reading. Do I have the best solution for typing on the go? Five questions.

14 August 2018 » communiqué 022

Five questions.

10 July 2018 » communiqué 021

Residents of Wimbledon. Meet Saga and Martin. When does the sidekick become the hero?

12 June 2018 » communiqué 020

Story vs situation. Designing covers. Traffic signals in Paris.

8 May 2018 » communiqué 019

My introductory library. US English vs UK English. Meghan Markle, Queen of England.

10 April 2018 » communiqué 018

Spelling doesn’t matter. Taking characters from real life. What gives literature longevity.

13 March 2018 » communiqué 017

Sending problems overseas. Nurturing ideas. Lilja and Snare.

13 February 2018 » communiqué 016

More choice language. Interfering in foreign affairs. What to do while we’re waiting for the Oscars.

9 January 2018 » communiqué 015

Easing slowly into 2018. Seeing snow. Bad language.

12 December 2017 » communiqué 014

A wrap up of 2017.

14 November 2017 » communiqué 013

The Camera, free for a very limited period. Simon Says, 2017 and 2018. Comrade Detective.

10 October 2017 » communiqué 012

And what do you think about this? Turning points for Leathan. Telling lies with historical accuracy. Expanding your library.

12 September 2017 » communiqué 011

What do you think? Why I said what I said in the first place. Getting the first chapter right.

8 August 2017 » communiqué 010

In this edition, I’m doing things a bit differently…and there’s a chapter from a book I’m writing.

11 July 2017 » communiqué 009

A look back at Pollute the Poor and where Sylvia comes in. Make sure you’ve got all the books in my introductory library. Augmenting my review team. Sexy Beast.

13 June 2017 » communiqué 008

The Camera—what the reviews say. Get Clementina while the price is low. Leather floors are a thing. In what order should I read the Leathan series? What I’m wearing this season.

9 May 2017 » communiqué 007

The Camera published. Why Paris. BrainDead and a possible explanation for why politics is as it is.

11 April 2017 » communiqué 006

The Camera is now available for pre-order. Have you read all the Leathan Wilkey books? Join my review team. The Power of the Dog.

14 March 2017 » communiqué 005

Simon Says: looking inside my head. Boniface Box Set. The Camera, the cover. Madeleine McCann. Reconsidering ebooks.

14 February 2017 » communiqué 004

Diplomatic Baggage available in all bookstores. Have you got all of the books in my free introductory library? The Camera, coming soon. The Hero Fails. If not Amazon, then… Jealousy and Envy. The Camera: chapter one.

10 January 2017 » communiqué 003

Writing Bag Man. Reasons to forgive Don Cheadle and Devil in a Blue Dress. Amazon Echo.

13 December 2016 » communiqué 002

Bag Man published. Simon Cann’s introductory library. Clementina available in all bookstores. The kernel of an idea. Goliath.

8 November 2016 » communiqué 001

Making a few changes—introducing Simon Says. Diplomatic Baggage. What’s next for Leathan Wilkey? Amanda Knox. Bag Man: chapter one.