Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Writers' New Year Resolutions 2014

@carolJhedges @RobertFanshaw #NewYearResolution Improve my grammar. My grammar to improve. Grammar I improve must... Damn!

I have made new writing friends and acquaintances this year through Twitter and Facebook so I decided, as a way of saying Happy New Year, to ask them for their Writing Resolution for 2014. I've included as many of the responses as possible below, though some defy categorization or even repeating - writers are an inventive and invective lot. You know who you are, Michele Chapman. How could you think that about your wonderful editor?

Social Media issues figured frequently in the responses, unsurprising considering the method of my inquiry. Annie Seaton, Katheryn Lane, Sarah E England, and Sarah Madison have all vowed to 'waste' less time on social media in favour of 'real' writing. Sarah M. makes a good case:
Less promotion. More writing. Readers are like stray cats. Just put out food.
Nan Sheppard  is going to not take her phone to bed so that she reads books instead of scrolling through FB. Jacqueline Seewald on the other hand wants to learn more about how to promote her work to readers, and Lottie Lovelace intends to stop writing for a while and start promoting. Maybe in another year we'll know who's right. (You have to read that last sentence as though spoken with heavy irony.) WK Parks thinks the answer is to ignore trends and write what he wants to read.

Writing is clearly addictive, sometimes dangerously so. Rosie Vanyon, Erika Hayes, Laura Levot, Dan McIntyre, and Shaun D'sousa all intend to indulge their habit for longer or more frequently than last year. Leanne Bibby and Cindy Blackburn admit they intend to make it a daily habit, even weekends. Rosie describes it in terms of becoming a 'bad friend'.
Movies, drinks, working bees, doggy play dates..I'm going to practice this: 'I can't. I'm writing.'
If that makes writing sound like a lot of fun, you could always read the Ruth de Haas blog on the subject of 'writer's back'. Bella Osbourne must have already read it and vows to 'sit properly' in 2014.

Some correspondents like Julie Houston worked so hard in 2013 that they mean to take it easier next year. Mohana Rajakumar is taking a well deserved break after releasing eight ebooks in the past two years, and Robert Carter wants to spend more time indulging his passion for photography.

The mantra of 'continuous improvement' permeates even that darkest and most individualistic corner of the creative industries, fiction. Must do better; but how? According to Heather Brown, Carol Hedges, Marie Lavender, Chelle Bruhn, Helen Phifer, and Mags (she of Mag's Musings), the answer is TO BE BETTER ORGANISED. A few self-inflicted lashes of the whip detected along with the Tweets. Celestia Dew is going to establish a routine and *stick with it*. Heather does include regular walks on the beach as part of her routine in her bid to finish eight works-in-progress in 2014. Wendy Kendall has set herself 1000 words a day and dedicated writing time on the calendar. Jill Barry has had a 'brilliant year' but still intends to use her writing time better in 2014. Judy Astley will spring a surprise:
I shall hand in a book before the deadline. That'll frighten the hell out of my editor.

Establishing a strict routine is not the only recommended path to increased productivity. Twitterers were forced by the 140 character limit to be specific about their goals. Author O'Dwyer is going to:
complete and send my RNA NWS submission by spring time.
So now everyone knows and will hold you to it! The Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme is a good thing. Nat Russo is starting a sequel whilst submitting his first novel. Steve Christie is going to visit his story locations instead of just Googling them. Helen Barbour is taking the plunge into self-publishing with her novel. Mick Arnold aims to find a publisher for his. For D.G. Kaye the answer is to become more of a plotter and less of a pantser (that's one for the American audience; a pair of trousers just doesn't work). Rhoda Baxter is going to write a novella and give a talk to Real People. Rhoda also mentions cutting down on chocolate, and she's not the only one.

Other correspondents have not been quite so specific and will be harder to hold to account come the reckoning day. Ioana Visan wants to be less stressed, Wendy Jones wants to lose weight and write better. Benjamin Scott wants to stop worrying about things he can't control. Esme Adams has resolved to believe in her talent and not be afraid of trying new things. Kelly Louise is also inspirational;
I've downsized to follow my dream. So... 5000 words will follow each panic attack.
Matthew Peters echoes a number of resolvers when he says he wants to focus more on the quality of writing and less on quantity. Whatever the experience of the past, the future will be written better according to Helena Fairfax;
I'll write more productively in 2014. I know I said that last year, but this time I really mean it. Honestly.
Francelia Belton will finish what she starts (I hope it's a piece of writing and not a fight!). Autumn Barlow is giving up erotica in favour of comedy, though both genres can be good for a laugh.

Nearly everything to do with writing is badly remunerated and ever it was thus. Sue Moorcroft will focus on short stories and avoid low-paying work. Jenny Brigalow would like any job that pays, but Loretta Laird is convinced she will become a writing millionaire this year. If that doesn't happen, Loretta, I recommend reading 'The Gift' by Lewis Hyde. Because writing is a gift whatever happens to it, isn't it?

Now there is a school of thought which says that New Year resolutions are a waste of time. Ruth de Haas and Edwin Dakin gave them up years ago. Darry Fraser has resolved this year to give up resolutions. Good luck with that one, Darry. Lesley Cookman advises against them on the grounds they ensure a sense of failure. I confess to not having made a resolution for a number of years. I have too many 'exercise diaries' with alarming gaps in February. But by being irresolute I have written 150,000 words of fiction this year and had two novels and a novella published (see below). It's a miracle, and not one I expect to repeat.

My thanks to all who responded. I have found it instructive, and I hope you have too. My apologies to those left out due to lack of time, space, or resolution. Best wishes for a fabulous 2014 to readers and writers everywhere.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Catch it now

I have bought Caroline an extra present for Christmas. No, it's not one of those, it's an ebook called 'The Catch' which I wrote especially for her new Kindle Paperwhite. She asked if I could please write something which didn't show her up in a bad light, so I wrote about one of my other loves, cricket. It's not just any old cricket, it's Ashes cricket, and with perfect timing, the background is a Melbourne test, Australia v England.

Now, it is fiction. You can tell because England play well enough to last five days. But over that five days, another drama unfolds as Alana Carragher has the chance to meet the Aussie Captain. It all starts with a 'crowd catch'. 

If, like Caroline, you need to chill out after the excitement of Christmas Day, then try transporting yourself to Melbourne (unless you're already there) with 'The Catch'. Just load it on to your Kindle, and don't drop it.

Link to Amazon:

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Hot scenes in a cold climate

I mentioned in the last post that the good people at Steam eReads have some new holiday reading lined up. One of my favourite Steamy authors, Annie Oakfield, has used the occasion to take her 'Bucket List' series on a skiing holiday. 

Not only that, she took Caroline and me with Amber and Lucy, and four of their best friends too. How did this come about? Well, regular readers of this blog will remember Caroline meeting Amber and Lucy while they were down in London on business. Then Caroline's banker 'friend', Von Wolfswinkle (VW for short), offered us his ski lodge for a few days. I think he was feeling guilty, like most bankers do. It was too big for just two of us, so Caroline invited Amber and Lucy and it grew from there.

I'm sure you've had holidays where it turns out very differently to what you were expecting. A surprising chain of events were put into motion when the males of the party showed off on the slopes on the first day and three injured themselves, including me. Day one, and I had my foot in plaster for a chipped bone. Of course, the women were determined to have a great party anyway, and before long were sipping champagne in the hot tub under the stars.

Sometimes you look back and think, Did we really do that? It's okay, you think, no-one is watching. But then Annie goes and writes it all down...

If you like the idea of hot sex in a cold climate, take a look:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Catch

And now, dear Blog Follower, for something a little different. Until now I have confined myself to writing about the adventures of my not-so-good-wife Caroline. God know, there has been plenty of material. But sometimes another story has to be told because it is simply the right time to tell it. Now is the time for the story called 'The Catch.' So I have put Caroline to one side, just for a while. She's away in Milan, anyway, attending the launch of the latest lingerie collection by the haute couture fashion house Plasticini, at the invitation of an old friend, the Ducati-riding Cosimo Baldisi.

Followers of the Ashes test series currently taking place in Australia will perhaps guess the topicality of this story arises from cricket, which is in many of our minds at present. For the English, the dropping of certain catches in the first two matches is a source of pain, and the losing of two tests by a wide margin a reason for wounded pride. For Australians, the victories are a sign that the almost empty trophy cupboard may soon be graced with a little wooden urn containing, it is said, The Ashes.

Thankfully, fiction is able to change everything, even the course of a test series. The great people at Steam eReads publishing decided, in the depths of the Australian winter, that it would be a service to readers of romance to spice up the Aussie summer with the release of a number of novellas, from short 'n sweet to short 'n spicy, written by their favourite authors, which capture the holiday mood. Beach reading, if you like. Or test match reading, if it's lunch, tea, drinks breaks, rain breaks, or just plain dull.

So I took the opportunity to contribute a story which has been brewing for some time, setting it over a Melbourne Ashes test match, starting on Boxing Day. I can't tell you the result, but I can tell you that England play better than they have done so far. In the crowd at the MCG are Alana Carragher and her two older brothers. Alana, a cricket nut, has a poster of the Australian captain on her bedroom wall.

Sitting in the row behind the Carraghers is an English post-grad student doing a year at Melbourne University. He's doing something with mice, but don't worry, it's not cruel. On the first day of the match, the Aussie captain hits a six (yes, he does, apologies to English readers) and Alana makes a diving crowd catch, a moment captured by the TV cameras and replayed on the big screen. It is a moment which brings her to the attention of The Captain, the object of her dreams and fantasies.

So very soon you will have the opportunity to read about a Melbourne test before it even happens. And you will also discover how Alana handles the dramatic events which unfold over the most important five days of her life so far. Don't worry it you don't like cricket. Everything is explained, and the romance will carry you though to the end. And if you do like cricket, you'll love it, just like in the song by 10cc.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Shameless Review

This week a review of Shameless Ambition popped into my inbox and I think it's worth sharing, and not just because of the Five Stars! A good review helps the reader know what to expect, and this one does just that.

Reviewed by Katelyn Hensel for Readers' Favorite

The cover was beautiful. The delicate bare back of a sensual redhead, giving us just a hint of her profile was, in retrospect, very telling as to the tone and content of the book. I was a bit unprepared for the wanton displays of lust portrayed in Robert Fanshaw's Shameless Ambition. Judging from the synopsis, you think it's just another casual tale of corporate lust and ladder climbing through the sheets of those on a higher rungs, but no, it's not that simple in this tale of pure unadulterated lust and debauchery. 

Caroline is your average woman. Happily married (or at least content) for three years to a perfectly nice man, and through hard work and long hours, she has worked her way to the top of her department in a multi-billion dollar company. Now, she and her colleagues are finding their inner creative cores, and vying for the envied position of Director of European Affairs. Caroline, always sweet and typically downright innocent, is seemingly possessed by her need to be true to herself. What does this mean? Getting up close and personal with her own body in the hotel pool, helping a colleague get over his sexual issues, and becoming free and wild with another colleague in the Spanish countryside? But what does this all mean? It turns out that the leader of this "conference" has been looking for one person in particular to help bring down the head of a rival corporation. She needs someone to catch him in a compromising position, and it looks like she's found the red-head who could do it. 

While there were certainly way more sexual situations than I had anticipated, Shameless Ambition was an interesting mix of head games and flirtation. While I am now absolutely terrified of going anywhere for a conference with my colleagues, it was a truly fascinating story. Robert wrote with an excellent degree of poise and clarity, and nothing ever seemed to cross the boundaries into vulgarity. I quite enjoyed my little romp around Europe. It was a quick and entertaining read for those who aren't afraid to see...or read...about a little skin.

Add a review of your own at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk



Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Caroline asks the questions

Caroline Fanshaw interviews her husband, Robert on the publication of his latest novel-length memoir, Shameless Exposure.

Caroline:  I want some straight answers, Robert. I notice that you gloss over your first visit to Castle Dunlaggin and in particular your relationship with the models Joni, Greta, and Georgina. Did something happen you’re not telling me about?

Robert:  When I’m writing a book I can’t include everything that happened, much as I might like to. I don’t deny that I found them very attractive, Georgina in particular. She was so symmetrical, perfect she said for bikini shoots. The flowing robes worn by the acolytes sat well on her tall frame. She said she only there to lose weight, but she looked good to me. Joni, on the other hand, took the programme very seriously. She really believed in the spirit guides.

Caroline:  Why on earth did you go there in the first place? Don’t you feel embarrassed that you were taken in by Regina Heart’s bogus cult?

Robert:  I wouldn’t say I was taken in by it. My legal training means I try to keep an open mind. I leave judging people down to the judge. I often take cases which seem far fetched, but the client deserves to be represented. It’s easy to judge these things with hindsight, but at the time the Orgatron training regime was gaining converts all over the world. Don’t pretend you weren’t tempted. If not, why did you audition for high priestess?

Caroline:  I’m the one asking the questions, Robert. And it wasn’t an audition. It was ordeal. He was the quite biggest, roughest man I have ever seen. Where was I? Oh yes; how did you persuade Angus to ferry you back to the island on the night of the solstice moon ceremony?

Robert:  Double malt whiskies were the key. Good man, Angus. He knew I’d drown if I tried to go across alone. We nearly did drown when the boat smashed into the slipway.

Caroline: Bogus philosophy aside, do you think anyone benefited from Regina’s Orgatron training?

Robert: I’d have to say yes. Wouldn’t you? I mean, sex is fantastic since you did the practice. And Jocasta says she is a changed woman. I thought at the time that Regina was being much too harsh with Jocasta, but the sessions in the dungeon and on the rack seemed to cure her completely.

Shameless Exposure, the second book in the 'My Wife Caroline' series, is published by Steam eReads and available on Amazon via this link:

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Friends of the Animus Vagismus

My name is Linda Bolsover and I work for CI5, the investigation branch of the Charity Commission. Not many people know we exist, but we were set up in response to concerns that some individuals and organisations were using charities as fronts for illegal activities and tax avoidance.

Robert has asked me to contribute a few words about my involvement in exposing Regina Heart's charity, Friends of the Animus Vagismus (charity number 43798). The full account appears in Robert's book, Shameless Exposure. Robert makes the work of a CI5 agent sound very exciting, but the reality is more mundane, and I spend much more time analysing computer files at a desk in London than in undercover fieldwork.

Just occasionally, though, I am grateful for the commando exercises which the operatives at CI5 undertake at the Parachute Regiment training camp. I certainly needed all my physical strength to escape from the prison pit at Castle Dunlaggin by scaling the rough walls and removing the heavy metal grill to access the castle courtyard.

I had been thrown into the cell by Regina's female guards, who she referred to as Wimples, reflecting the tall conical headgear they wore to distinguish themselves from regular proselytes. The Wimples had caught me going through the drawers in Regina's desk whilst everyone else was occupied in connecting with their animal spirits at the winter solstice moon ceremony. It would be hard to explain the fervour of that ceremony to anyone who hasn't been there, but Robert does give some hint of the techniques the acolytes employed. I had to participate in the preparatory programme myself in order to remain undercover. Let's just say it was an education. Whilst not subscribing myself to Regina's philosophy, I do think the daily practice has led to better orgasms.

The Wimples didn't know that I had already broken Regina's password and found the files I was looking for. Once I had broken free from the cell I made my way back to the great hall where the ceremony was reaching, quite literally, its climax. I won't give away the end, but everyone knows that Regina is awaiting trial and could serve up to five years if found guilty. That night was one of the most satisfying of my life, both professionally and personally.

Robert took an enormous risk himself when agreeing to help me investigate Regina's cult. We all saw things we will never forget, and Robert nearly drowned when risking the boat journey back to the Isle of Mura in dark and windy conditions. It is in moments of extreme stress that lasting friendships are formed. Perhaps, after all, there is a special power in the animus vagismus.

Read the books:

goo.gl/DvujEy    (UK)
goo.gl/gUue8x   (Rest of the World)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Should a book contain a 'Foreword'? Why not just plunge straight in with Chapter One? Is it part of the story or not? Fair question. And the answer is, yes and no. No, because the novel Shameless Exposure, published by Steam eReads and available via the link below stands complete in itself. Yes, because it is part of a larger landscape, the Shameless series, a set of stories which share some familiar characters, some common themes, and some scenes Caroline would rather forget ever happened. Here is the Foreword to Shameless Exposure:
Soon after the Eurobonds affair I received an email from Herbert von
Wolfswinkle. He explained that around the time the loans were made
to Monsaint, Melody had applied to join the Inner Circle. She wanted
access to the private parties for stressed-out bankers and politicians.
Von Wolfswinkle vetted her application and turned it down:
Miss Bigger lacked the necessary discretion to become a member of our society.
She did not forgive me for turning her down. Be careful of that Bigger
woman. If she perceives you have slighted her, she will seek to destroy you
like she sought to destroy me. Please give my felicitations to your lovely wife
Caroline, and tell her she is welcome to visit me at the IMF when she is next
in New York. I will be honoured to show her the inner workings of this great
institution. Regards, HvW.
I replied to sender, thanking Herbert for completing the jigsaw. I didn’t
tell Caroline about the invitation to visit the IMF, or about his warning.
I wish I had.

Read more than the Foreword on Amazon:

goo.gl/DvujEy    (UK)
goo.gl/gUue8x   (Rest of the World)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Caroline Speaks

"Sometimes I don’t listen to Robert but I certainly don’t remember him saying he was going to ask Steam eReads to publish the latest details of the ups and downs of our marriage. I have only just stopped blushing from the reaction to Shameless Ambition. I am pleased to say that most readers sided with me, though I’m not sure they will this time. I did let everything get on top of me, including the biggest man I have ever seen, and I made some bad judgements. Robert, of course, never makes bad judgements (snigger).

He doesn’t give me a formal credit, but he let me write the first and last chapters of Exposure. It’s the first time I’ve written anything apart from the financial commentary to the annual report, but I quite enjoyed doing it, recalling details that would otherwise have slipped into oblivion. Robert makes such a fuss about writing and spends ages at the computer, but I found it easy, just talking into a machine. I hope you will like my style. And before you ask, yes, I did go to the wrong address. It was a genuine mistake.

Robert asked me to read the book when it was finished. When I put the e-Reader down, he asked me if it was a fair reflection of what happened. I couldn’t answer right away, I had to drag him off to bed first. But when I had got my breath back I said I thought he had captured the mood of the time. Everyone was talking about Regina Heart’s programme using Orgatron training to increase the power of the female orgasm. Everyone thought that Friends of the Animus Vagismus was a genuine charity dedicated to releasing and harnessing the ancient power of the animal spirits. The acolytes who attended the monthly moon ceremonies at Regina’s main centre at Castle Dunlaggin really believed it enabled them to take control of their sexuality. The book includes some personal case studies.

But I know that, hidden beneath the froth of contemporary events, the book is really about me. About how I allowed an old flame to paint me naked for a charity calendar; about how a taste of the bohemian world of artists and musicians made me bored with business life; about how the new chief executive of Monsaint Medical Instruments turned out to be every bit as much a psychopath as the last one; and about how I let myself be lured by Regina Heart into a dangerous mental place, where I was offered a loyal following of thousands of acolytes. If it wasn’t for Robert, I might be chained to the walls in the dungeons of Castle Dunlaggin like poor Jocasta was.

Robert wanted to publish the book to expose Regina’s tax scam. This has meant revealing details which I would rather have remained private. But now it’s out in the open, I feel a sense of freedom, despite being so busy at work. We’re looking to expand into the Far East. I feel certain that my next new experience is just around the corner."

A version of this post first appeared on the Steam eReads website.


Shameless Ambition

Shameless Exposure

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Erik Bellinker

Erik Bellinker comments on the eve of publication of Shameless Exposure:

Followers of my work will know that I don't usually give interviews or comment on the critics' reviews of my exhibitions. The one exception I make is prestigious arts programmes on satellite television where the fees are generous even by my standards. I am doing this as a favour to Caroline's husband, Robert. You could say I owe him one.

I haven't yet read the book, though it's loaded on to my Kindle and ready to go. Caroline has warned me that I feature heavily, particularly in the first part of the so-called novel. I thought I would take this opportunity to say what really happened from my perspective. People tend to forget that we artists have a trained eye; not much escapes the Bellinker gaze.

When I received the commission to paint four nude studies representing the seasons for a charity calendar and auction I knew immediately that I wanted Caroline for my Autumn muse. I called the work 'Miss November', although Caroline is, as she keeps reminding me, Mrs. I use the word muse rather than model, because my subjects, although minutely examined, are mere inspirations. I am not interested in representation per se. I am looking under the skin to the universal social themes revealed in posture and expression.

In the case of Caroline, who I first knew when I was a struggling artist in a garret above a butcher's shop in Willesden Green, and she was a student in need of  money, I was shocked by her appearance when she walked out of the lift and into my Whitechapel studio. She looked careworn. What a contrast to Xena Bardot, who you probably know as my 'Miss August', a painting which immediately caused a public sensation.

I do not mean the contrast between the redhead of autumn and the blonde of summer. Xena, a self-employed designer, leads a bohemian existence, full of parties, music and creative relationships. Xena relaxed into my sofa and was easy to paint, as comfortable without clothes as with. We formed an immediate connection, and she introduced me to other people in her circle. Caroline on the other hand was tense and close to tears. I knew something was wrong, but my job is to paint what I see.

When Caroline saw the results of those first sittings it was like a revelation for her. She berated me, of course, for showing the stress that was under her skin. As an old friend, I felt obligated to rescue her from the prison of business life into which she had voluntarily incarcerated herself. Fortunately, the real Caroline was not far below the surface and by the time the painting was finished an entirely different vision was decorating the canvas.

In life, one thing leads to another. The phenomenal success of the charity auction of the paintings increased my profile in Russia and the Far East. The bidding war for Miss November between a Chinese man and an Italian casino magnate was all over the social media. My charitable efforts mean that my paintings now sell for twice what they used to.

For Caroline, those evenings spent in my studio led her to the door of a quasi-religious experience. I believe she even considered becoming a priestess, though I find that hard to imagine. I'm looking forward to reading where that path took my muse in Shameless Exposure. I will let you know the moment it is available on Amazon.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Miss August

Hello, my name is Xena Bardot and Robert has asked me to say a little about myself. I am French, I live in London, and I run a design consultancy with Craig. Craig and I share accommodation and friends. We both have a passion for design, adding the little touches to everyday objects which nobody notices. Robert has been kind enough to include me in his new book, Shameless Exposure, which is published next week by Steam eReads.

I can't say I know Robert very well because our paths crossed only briefly at the launch of series of artistic nude paintings done for charity. That was the famous night at the National Portrait Gallery when Princess Fiona of East Anglia revealed her love for a lady-in-waiting and gave up her royal titles to become simple Dame Fiona of Fakenham.

I do, however, know his wife Caroline very well, and count her among my friends. I count everyone I have a bath with as a friend. I remember the first time we met. I had already heard much about her from Erik Bellinker, one the artists commissioned to do the charity paintings. I was his model for August, and in the hours I lounged on some bales of hay in his studio, I often had to listen to him going on about how wonderful Caroline was. I don't know if he was trying to make me jealous because at other times Erik was all over me.

Caroline was his autumn model to take advantage of her red hair. Erik started scheduling his work on August and November back to back so that we were both in the studio at the same time. I knew what Erik was up to; he has exotic tastes. It was no surprise when he invited us all, including my boyfriend Craig, to a party in Notting Hill hosted by the Algerian musician and mutual friend, Omar Zidane. It was a great party. Omar played an impromptu gig with some musician friends in the front room and Craig did the cooking, creating a divine lamb tagine. Caroline was there on her own - I remember she said Robert was away on business in Scotland.

A lot of the women at the party were talking about this new technique to put women in touch with their animal spirits. I had been to the Orgatron Training Centre myself and have to admit the results were fantastic. I had given Caroline the address and told her she should try it. She went to the wrong address, which was a funny story. But you will soon all know, so I might as well tell you, that Caroline ended up with a front seat at the solstice moon ceremony at Regina Heart's main centre on the Isle of Mura in Scotland.

Robert didn't include it in the book, but it was me who made soup and nursed Caroline back to health after she nearly froze to death on a Scottish hillside in the middle of winter. I did it to show Caroline that even free spirits like me have a caring side.

Shameless Exposure is to be published on 28th October.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Many and sincere thanks to those of you who have provided feedback and reviews on Shameless Ambition (available as an e-book from SteameReads and Amazon). One or two have pointed out that it breaks the rules of romantic fiction, and even the rules of not-very-romantic fiction. There is a distinct shortage of adjectives, adverbs, and heaving bosoms. Some readers found it difficult to follow, citing too many characters. Here is an extract from an actual review on Goodreads:

i honestly didn't like this book it was all over the place following a bunch of people that i actually got lost reading this book.
I have not tampered with the reviewer's syntax or punctuation, but I take the point. Ideally, romance involves two main characters, possibly a third to muddy the waters. The dashingly attractive alpha male hero is high status and probably a doctor. The self-deprecating and hopelessly lost but gorgeous nurse is our heroine. Who shall we have playing Muddy Waters? A faceless but ruthless hospital bureaucrat? Or an ex who is stalking gorgeous nurse?

In Shameless Ambition the alpha male doctor is a female business executive and the nurse is me, barrister Robert Fanshaw. In the book I am not in  uniform, and gorgeous would not be the right word, although Caroline likes it when I wear a wig and gown. Since we are already married, there is no explosive moment when A sweeps B off his or her feet, though I did find some relief in the fact that at the end of the book we were still together.

In this, the first of the Shameless series, it is the Muddy Waters character that leads to confusion for those who read books mainly while they are driving to work and so get lost. For my Muddy Waters is not one character, but many; a collection of bankers, politicians, and business people who are desperately trying to save the Eurozone from financial ruin. I accept the criticism of too many characters, but in my defence I have to say it really was a confusing time. Thank goodness we don't have to worry about major nations defaulting on their debts any more. (NB:  USA, USA !! Please note the use of irony. I shouldn't have to point it out, but some of the reviews from across the water suggest I do.)

I have undertaken a major cull of characters in the forthcoming Shameless Exposure to make it easier for people to read and operate machinery at the same time. Muddy Waters is played more or less by one person, Regina Heart. I am intending to signpost the plot with the use of BLOCK CAPITALS, bold type, and underlining at crucial points. I will also help readers get to know the characters (some of whom I can still count as friends) over the next few weeks by providing pen portraits, actual photographs, and contributions from said characters about their part in the book.

I will begin next week with Xena Bardot, who appears as Miss August in a very artistic charity calendar.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Moon Ceremony

Forbes-Brown has an office in Edinburgh and throws a piece of work my way every now and then. When he said he had a client who wanted to take on a big company for a complex case of wrongful dismissal, I didn't for one moment suspect that the client would be a woman I had previously crossed swords with. It was only when I got to Castle Dunlaggin that I realised the woman now calling herself Regina Heart was the same woman who, under the name Melody Bigger, had tried to blackmail my wife Caroline in the Eurobonds affair.

She appeared to be a reformed character. I should have remembered about leopards and spots, although Regina's animal guide was said by some to be a giant pussy. Bad weather made it impossible for me to leave the Isle of Mura on schedule and I was forced to stay for the 'moon ceremony.'

The tables were filled with smiling, chattering women. Nobody missed dinner this time, and not just because of the bottles of wine on the tables. Everyone was looking forward to the moon ceremony. For the majority, it would be their first attempt to make contact with an animal spirit. It would also be, except for the wayward Jocasta, their first physical release for at least twenty seven days, a release they had been skirting around with increasing difficulty in their daily practice.
     The upper reaches of the legal profession were one of the few remaining areas of modern work life, apart from rubbish collection, which was still a predominately male environment. Robert was not used to being outnumbered so comprehensively and sat down next to Angus for moral support once he had collected his bowl of yellow lentil stew with yellow rice from the kitchen.
     “Ye decided to stay then?” said Angus, taking off his cap and placing it on the table.
     “Regina more or less insisted, but I am curious to see the ceremony.”
     “Well I hope ye are feeling energetic. Ye may be in demand later on.”
     “Not me, I’m married.” Robert picked at his lentils, his appetite not stimulated by the smell or the texture.
     “There’s no one married on Mura. That’s what Miss Heart says, anyway. Ye best be prepared. Eat yer stew.”
     “What about you? Are you married?”
     “Nay. I’m still looking for the right girl. There’s not many single lasses on Sporran.” From his grizzled looks, Robert guessed Angus had been looking for a long time. Angus drained his cup of wine.
     “Is that where you’re from?”
     “Aye, lived there all my life.”
     “What about the women who come to Castle Dunlaggin? Lots of them seem to be single and looking for something or someone.”
     Angus leaned towards Robert and spoke conspiratorially: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad of the work ferrying people here and there and doing odd jobs for Miss Heart. But most of these lasses are wrong in the head. I wouldn’t want a girl of mine to get up to what they get up to.”
     “But surely there’s nothing wrong with masturbation?”
     “In front of strangers?”
     “But it’s not just mindless sex, is it? They’re trying to connect with some bigger power, develop themselves spiritually.”
     “You’ve no been taken in by this nonsense have you?”
     “Not taken in I hope. I’m just trying to keep an open mind. It’s part of my training.” Robert immediately wished he hadn’t reminded Angus that he was a lawyer. Angus gave him a look of contempt and refilled both their cups with wine.
     “Well don’t say I didn’t warn ye.”

Shameless Exposure by Robert Fanshaw will be published shortly by SteameReads.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Sound of Mura

Regina Heart had used the shell of Castle Dunlaggin to build the main centre for her animist religion. The castle was on a remote island, and to get to Regina's castle you had to take your chances with a small ferry, The Sound of Mura, that only ran when the weather was flat calm. The reason for my journey there was a legal matter. I certainly wasn't intending to participate in the programme.
Robert heard the boat before he saw it. He thought it must be some small fishing boat with an outboard motor, but then, as the high pitched whine increased, a flat-bottomed launch surged out of the mist. The captain of the vessel, standing at the back holding the tiller, cut the engine and the Sound of Mura drifted up to the jetty. Three women stood up in the boat and lurched to the side to clamber up on the jetty, assisted by the captain. When they were on the jetty, the captain looked at his watch.
“Eleven o’clock then. That’s when the boat leaves. If you’re not here I go without you.”
“Excuse me,” said Robert. “I thought the boat left at ten o’clock. That’s what it says on the notice.”
“That was last winter. We changed it to fit better with the ferry over from the mainland.” The boatman busied himself securing the vessel to the jetty.
“Is there anywhere to shelter – get a cup of coffee maybe?” asked Robert.
“You might as well come with us,” said one of the long haired girls. Robert was used to looking down slightly when he talked to women, but it was not necessary in this case. All three were taller than him. “We’re going to the hotel for our daily fix.” Robert looked puzzled. He’d not expected to encounter drug addicts in such a remote spot.
“Don’t look so worried. They do really good coffee. And more important, there’s a cigarette machine. I’m Georgina, by the way. And this is Joni. And Greta: she’s from Poland. We do assignments for the same agency.”
Ten minutes brisk walking with the long-striding women and Robert was back at the hotel in Blackwaterside. The man behind the bar was obviously expecting the women.
“The usual?”
“Yes please,” said Georgina, “but put in an extra shot all round. Coffee for this gentleman, too.”
The waiter nodded at Robert. “I thought you were a wee bit early for the boat. It’s not a day for sight-seeing.” Robert nodded back. He knew in theory that Scotland was a mountainous country but in three visits he had only ever had the merest glimpse of hillside through rain or mist.
Robert joined the women in the smoking shelter whilst the coffee was prepared. He asked them how long they had been at Dunlaggin Castle.
“Nearly three weeks,” said Joni. “Twenty eight days is the preferred stay – you have to go though one complete lunar cycle. It’s my second visit. It’s great because I lose loads of weight which is so hard in London.”
“I didn’t know Regina ran a weight loss programme,” said Robert.
“No, she doesn’t. It’s just that the food is simple. There’s no alcohol – except once a month at full moon. We drink loads of herbal tea and the pounds just fall off, which is handy in our line of work.” Of course, thought Robert, models.
“So you’re not interested in Regina’s animist philosophy?”
“I am,” said Joni, directing a plume of smoke away from Robert. “I’m not sure about those two. They seem more interested in practice than theory.” They all three giggled. They moved back into the warmth of the hotel to drink their coffee and spent the next twenty minutes establishing that Robert’s social circle and their own did not overlap at any point.
“Is that a watch?” asked Robert. “Only I’m worried about missing the boat.”
“This?” said Georgina, waving an electronic bracelet on her right wrist. “No, it’s not a watch. You have to wear it if you’re following the programme. You explain it, Greta. I get embarrassed.”
Greta shuffled up close to Robert and pulled back her sleeve.
“This is an Orgatron. It measures the female sexual response. It’s an aid to women following the programme because some women aren’t so sure if they’ve had an orgasm or not, and others have them at the drop of a hat. See the red area on the dial? That lights up if I have an orgasm and it sends a signal to Regina’s computer. And the yellow, that’s the zone we have to stay in until the full moon. It starts to flash if you get close to orgasm, it helps you learn control. Regina will explain it much better. It’s a means to an end. The idea is to connect with the spirit through the power of the female orgasm.”

Extract from Shameless Exposure by Robert Fanshaw, published soon by Steam eReads.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013


How does it happen that things suddenly become fashionable? There was a time last year when everyone in London was talking about Regina Heart's animist philosophy and her technique for increasing the power of the female orgasm. Regina used social media to spread the word, tweeting constantly about the magical powers of the Orgatron bracelet.  But word of mouth was the most effective conduit. I have already mentioned Caroline's failed attempt to visit the London Orgatron Training Centre. She had been told about it by her friend Xena. Now Caroline was telling her work friend, Antonia. They had met at a fashionable Argentinian restaurant in Trafalgar Square.

“They have a broad definition of work. Any kind of socialising with the wives or husbands of politicians is considered tax deductible,” said Caroline. “I suppose both at the same time is good value for money. Well, I’ve got a story which is every bit as good as yours. Robert’s been to see Melody Bigger, though she’s called something else.”
      “You’re joking. How did that happen?”
      “She’s making a claim against Monsaint for unfair dismissal and Robert got the case. He had to go up to Scotland to take instructions from her. He said it was pure chance he got the case but I’m worried something’s going on.”
      “Melody’s getting her claws into Robert? That’s a horrible thought.”
      “Yes, and wait till you hear this. She’s found religion. Not exactly found religion, more founded a religion. It’s really weird, based on pagan sexual rites.” Caroline leaned across the table. “It’s about releasing the cosmic power of the female orgasm.”
      “Did you say orgasm?” said Antonia. People on the surrounding tables turned their heads.
      “Yes I did. Robert says they work themselves up into a frenzy at the full moon. He only just got away unscathed.”
      “Fantastic, what’s it called?” Antonia pulled out her smart phone ready for some instant research.
      “I can’t remember what the religion’s called, but she’s called Regina Heart now and her centre is on the Isle of Mura.”
      Antonia tapped in a few letters and seconds later was waving her hand across the Castle Dunlaggin Experience website. She loaded the promo video and the tinny tones of Regina joined them at the table. Caroline tried to speak but Antonia wouldn’t let her. She watched the video all the way through.
      “Well that’s different,” said Antonia. “What’s your animal guide, Caroline? I know what mine is.”
      “I’ve no idea. Robert wanted to show me but I refused to watch the video. It’s obviously phoney. Melody’s up to something again, not to mention trying to screw millions out of Monsaint.”
      “I think you should give it a chance. As soon as I watched I knew I had an animal guide. I’ve known all along, I just haven’t been able to put my finger on it.”
      “You’re always putting your finger on it. Tell me you haven’t got a vibrator in your bag?”
      “I haven’t got a vibrator in my bag,” said Antonia, looking serious. Caroline reached across the table, snatched her shiny black bag, and emptied the contents on the tablecloth. Caroline rummaged through a pile of keys, cards, tickets, and a packet of fruit flavoured condoms. She pulled out a pair of green lace shorties with a bow at the front. She held them up.
      “Very nice. Hoping to get lucky?” said Caroline.
      “I was a girl guide. Be prepared. I never go out without a Swiss army knife, a spare pair of knickers and my travel toothbrush.”
      “I can’t see a Swiss army knife.” Caroline rummaged through the pile and picked out the folding toothbrush, and in doing so nudged a silver bullet-shaped thing which rolled across the tablecloth and landed on the floor. It continued over to the next table where four young Japanese tourists, three women and a man, all with multi-coloured hair, were practising their English. One of the women leant down and picked it up.
      “What this called in English, please?” she asked.       
      "It’s called a Magic Bullet,” said Antonia.
      “For use in restaurant?” Her female companions giggled and the young man fired an imaginary gun.
      “Depends on the company,” said Antonia.
      “Don’t confuse them,” said Caroline. She turned to the tourists. “It’s a small vibrator. A girl’s best friend.”
      “Press the button at the top,” said Antonia. The young woman did not understand.
      Antonia stood up and gestured to the young woman to pass the machine back to her. She sat back down, turned towards their table, pressed the button, hitched up her skirt, and gave a brief demonstration.
      “Ah, girl’s best flend,” said the Japanese woman, nodding and smiling comprehension. Her companions laughed uncontrollably and attracted the attention of a fresh faced, waist-coated waiter. He rushed over to their table.
      “Is there a problem? Do you need any help?”
      The Japanese women giggled helplessly. The waiter caught Antonia red handed, or at least red faced. She tried to look cool and sophisticated. Caroline reached across the table and snatched the shiny vibrator.
      “I’m confiscating that,” said Caroline. “Honestly Antonia, you can’t be trusted in public.”
Caroline was right to be sceptical, but still ended up getting swept along with the wave of enthusiasm for Orgatron training. Of course it ended in tears, but the story had to be told.

Extract from Shameless Exposure, coming soon from SteameReads.



Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Cutting Room Floor

Just need to tie up one or two loose ends arising from the past two weeks. I've been on a Blog Tour around the parallel universe which is the Internet.

Loose end (1). Following the last post's revelation of Caroline doing the ironing, a reader suggests that in the interests of balance and equality I provide a picture of myself doing the ironing. I would love to, but no such picture exists. I will see if I can find another one of C to make up.

Loose end (2). There is a lot of unused material on the cutting room floor, mostly interviews that didn't see the light of day or were cut to shreds. The questions weren't mine, so I'll just give you the answers, and you can work out what the question was.

I love whiskey and dark chocolate. The tastes are both strong, but go together perfectly after a meal. I just finished a bottle of Aberlour and bar of Ghanaian chocolate. Not all in one go, obviously. A love of chocolate is one thing I share with my wife, Caroline. She prefers red wine to whiskey.
I like to go to work occasionally. We still wear wigs in court in England and when I put the wig on I feel like a different person. Caroline says the same. My passion is Manchester United football club. MU fans are derided in the UK for travelling first class and eating prawn sandwiches, but you’ve got to eat something on the train up to Manchester, right?
Great question. I love criticism because it’s really helpful when a reader tells you honestly what they think, but it’s still tough when you read a review by a person who didn’t get the humour and thinks bad things about Caroline. The best compliment was a female reader who said “If I didn’t know otherwise, I would have said that Shameless Ambition was written by a woman.” I took that as a compliment because I work hard to understand the female perspective. Living with Caroline, I have to. 
I’m sure Caroline won’t see this so I can say definitely Scarlett Johannson. The reasons will be obvious to any male readers. Scarlett is such a good name. Seems like I may be too late because she is engaged to a Frenchman and they know all the best restaurants.
Veuve Cliquot champagne and a bottled beer from Belgium. There’s a wilted lettuce in the crisper drawer. Caroline does a good cupboard meal when she’s at home.
I would be very grateful if readers could email in or comment on the blog and tell me what genres I write in. Although the events have been novelised to avoid legal action (some of the names are changed, too) the books are based on life. The material comes from emails, incriminating photos, Caroline’s diary, phone records. The result is romance, humour, suspense, and a certain amount of sex. So it’s like life when things go wrong, but you survive somehow.
Eat as much chocolate as you like but go easy with the whiskey.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

More about Ironing

In preparation for the on-going blog tour, my eAgent (Ajay) conducted an interview over a Skype video link. This is the transcript.

Ajay:  Good evening, Robert. I understand Shameless Ambition was never meant to be published. What happened?

Robert:  I can’t go into the whole story now - it would make another book – but in essence a woman called Melody Bigger decided to sue Monsaint, the company she once managed, claiming unfair dismissal. Her evidence would have dragged my wife Caroline down. In the end, we had to publish so that Caroline’s side of the story came out.

Ajay:  So it was a joint decision between you and Caroline to publish? I ask because some of the details about Caroline’s involvement with senior people in the European Central Bank are quite shocking.

Robert:  No, it was my decision. Caroline defers to me on legal matters, I defer to her on financial matters. She is finance director at home as well as at work. I have to get her approval before every one-click purchase.

Ajay:  What are your feelings now seeing your wife on the cover of the book and knowing that people will read about her indiscretions?

Robert:  Mixed emotions. I am proud of Caroline that she came through the ordeal. She got involved with some peculiar people. And I do have a crumb of authorial satisfaction to see my work in a format others can read. A lot of work goes into a book being published. I would like to thank Steam eReads, the publishers; they have been fantastic. But then, absolute horror at the thought that people might read it.

Ajay:  What about Caroline? What does she feel about people knowing the intimate details of her affairs?

Robert:  Her business affairs? I don’t know. We don’t discuss it. You can ask her yourself if you like. She’s in the kitchen doing the ironing. Shall I call her through?

Ajay:  Yes please. I’d love to meet her.

Robert:  (Loudly) Caroline – Ajay’s on Skype and wants to ask you about the book. Do you mind talking to him?

Caroline:  (Muffled) Just a minute. (Sound of chair being moved and new person sitting down).

Ajay:  Thank you for joining us, Caroline. Um…

Caroline:  What? Oh, sorry for my appearance. I only do the ironing when I’ve got nothing left to wear.

Ajay:  No problem. I think I already understand something better. Caroline, I was just asking Robert what you feel about the publication of Shameless Ambition.

Caroline:  Pleased for Robert, obviously. He takes his writing seriously. But I haven’t read the book and don’t intend to. I stick to political biographies, military history, and books by business gurus.

Ajay:  In the book some people describe you as something of an exhibitionist. Do you think that’s a fair description?

Caroline:  I really don’t know what they’re talking about. That bit at the end when I’m standing naked at the window in our room in the Shangri-La hotel with the lights on and the curtains open – everyone does that after a couple of glasses of wine, don’t they?

Ajay:  So some of the book is familiar to you?

Caroline:  I checked a few pages here and there to make sure Robert hadn’t taken any liberties.

Robert:  If I could just come in there…

Caroline:  Just wait, Robert. It’s my turn.

Ajay:  When did you realise that Robert was writing a book about the Eurobonds affair?

Caroline:  I wouldn’t want Robert to take all the credit. Large parts of the book were written up from my own notes and emails. Robert put it all together for legal reasons. We discovered that Melody Bigger is not only a powerful woman, but also a dangerous one. I agree with it being published because I think it’s important that people know what goes on behind the scenes in the world of business and politics.

Ajay:  I have read every word of the book of course – several times. What would you say to readers who say it’s a bit far-fetched in places?

Caroline:  I think you must have led a very sheltered life, Ajay. If it wasn’t factual, why would Von Wolfswinkle have hired the most expensive publicist in Europe to frame his denial of the major events?

Robert:  I really must in come there… Von Wolfswinkle is entitled to his version of events. The truth is never straightforward. It looks different if you’re on top or underneath. The book is not intended to harm anyone’s reputation. I have changed some names to protect the innocent, except Antonia’s. But then she’s not innocent in the common meaning of the word. And Caroline is called Caroline, obviously. I can’t think of my wife by any other name.

Ajay:  Some men might be embarrassed if their wife behaved like Caroline. They might even seek divorce. Does it take a brave man to describe his wife’s love life in such detail?

Robert:  Bravery is standing up in court to argue for a plaintiff who has a five per cent chance of winning his case. You say you’ve read the book so you’ll know I’m not entirely blameless. Caroline and I like to think we have a modern marriage, and the truth is we are getting on better than ever.

Ajay:  What do you think that means – a modern marriage: Caroline?

Caroline:  I think it’s something every couple, married or unmarried, has to work out. There aren’t too many rules on how to live your life these days. I can only speak for myself. My job is very important to me. If someone tries to take that away, I get very angry indeed. If another woman tries to take Robert away, that’s not quite so serious. I would use conventional weapons, not nuclear.

Ajay:  Same question, Robert.

Robert:  A modern marriage? For me, it means a woman has an equal right to a great career, but still has to do the ironing. (Sounds of a brief scuffle and some camera wobble). No seriously, I am more than happy for Caroline to earn big money. Do you know how much a season ticket at Manchester United costs these days?

Ajay:  Robert, do you have any ambitions as a writer?

Robert:  One day I would like to move on from memoir and into fiction, but currently I’m working on the sequel to Shameless Ambition. Caroline is likely to be in the news soon because of nude painting she did for charity, and Melody is trying to exploit that as well.

Caroline:  Robert, you promised you wouldn’t…

Robert:  I’m trying to explain to Ajay why I write. Lawyers write things down all the time, make up a story from the available evidence that will convince the judge. In this case, I hope for a positive verdict from the jury of readers.

Ajay:  Thank you, Caroline and Robert Fanshaw. Perhaps we could all meet up for a drink one evening?

A version of this interview first appeared on Susanna’s Morning Room.


Who are these people?

The world is divided into voyeurs and exhibitionists... It takes one of each to make a good marriage.

Robert and Caroline Fanshaw are an ambitious young couple trying to make their way in a complex world.

What happens when their private affairs collide with world events and the big issues of our times? Drama, comedy and x-rated scenes.

email fanshawrobert@gmail.com