Posted by XanderRichards at 28 December 2012

Category: News

I would like to wish all my friends, fans, fellow authors and anyone who stumbles upon this website a very happy, peaceful, prosperous and blessed new year full of fun, great times and awesomeness!

To celebrate, here’s a book giveaway thanks to those nice folks at Goodreads.  Get your name on the list before February 1st to win one of ten free copies!!!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Coast: An Act Of Burial by Xander Richards

Coast: An Act Of Burial

by Xander Richards

Giveaway ends February 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Posted by XanderRichards at 1 December 2012

Category: News

Life has been oddly full recently, but I couldn’t excuse myself if I didn’t spread the word about a few things going on.

The ‘Lit Happens’ show on which I appeared is now being broadcast on Shaw Tv.  You can check it out at Shaw TV’s YouTube channel, or go to channel 10 on regular Shaw Cable, where it’s been showing at the bottom of the hour during the ‘Go! Saskatchewan’ segment.  Because I was so nervous, I can barely remember the details of the shoot, but I’m happy to report that it’s nowhere near as bad as I thought it was!  Wes is a really great guy who does his best to promote new writers, and I’m very grateful to him for the opportunity.

And so to the headline of this post, I’ve got a couple of book signings happening soon.  The first one is at The Cake Witch in Rosthern, Saskatchewan, on December 6th, 3PM—8PM.  The Cake Witch is a new art-house cafe being opened by pastry chef Barbara Harder-Lutz, who wants to turn it into a go-to venue for arts and crafts (and her amazing baking).  So if you happen to be in or near Rosthern on Thursday the 6th, why not drop in and say “hi”?  Even better, grab yourself a signed book or two from the several Saskatchewan authors who’re going to be there.

The next signing is on Sunday December 9th, 1PM-3PM  at McNally Robinson on 8th Street East, Saskatoon.  This is a joint signing with cover artist Jonathon Earl Bowser, where he’ll be displaying some of his amazing paintings.  The folks at McN&R are a brilliant bunch and they love to help indie authors.  This is going to be a good event so please swing by and meet Jon, who’s one of the most talented and intelligent people I’ve ever known.  If you already own a copy of ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial’ then bring it with you and we can both sign it.  See you there!

In the new year I’m going to be doing some joint events with Gary Chappell, whose debut poetry collection was recently released.  As there’s no conflict of interest between a spy novel and a collection of poems, we’re likely to be traveling together to libraries in various Saskatchewan towns, doing signings and readings.  More details on this down the road.

Finally, check out ‘The Buzz’ on Saskatoon’s CFCR 90.5 this Wednesday at around 5:30PM when I’m going to be interviewed about the book, spies, writing and all sorts of good stuff.  Don’t be scared: I have a British accent, just like all the good villains in movies these days!

That’s all for now.  Roger and out, X.


Posted by XanderRichards at 17 November 2012

Category: News

Well, that’s what it felt like.

This week I recorded a segment for the ‘Lit Happens’ TV show with host Wes Funk and I was as nervous as hell.  Seriously; scared out of my wits.  I’ve never been comfortable with publicity or being in the public eye and have always preferred to remain ‘backstage’.  Someone once asked me if I wanted the limelight and I answered “no, I don’t use that stuff.”

This being said it was a kinda fun experience too, mostly because of Wes being such an amiable host and because of the cool people that I met there.  First of all, Jay and Dean from Shaw Cable were awesome.  They each had a camera and a light and everything was set up in a corner of Indigo Books.  They were highly professional and clearly experts at what they do.  Then I met a bunch of other authors; Gary Chappell (who I’d met before), James Brayshaw, Jean Freeman and Glenda Goertzen.  They all seemed like a great bunch and I remarked to Wes afterward that you get to meet such interesting people with this author lark — goodness knows he must have met hundreds of fascinating writers of all kinds of literature!

The ‘Lit Happens’ show that I appeared on will be broadcast on Shaw Cable soon, and I’ll post the details once I get them.  Go watch my ugly mug haha!

In a curiously coincidental happenstance, I spent the next two days filming small acting roles for Media School.  I’ve been collaborating with them for a few years now, helping out in a professional capacity and, now that people think of me as some kind of author, even consulting on stories and plots.  Watching these young people explore their creativity, producing their wee movies, has been a tremendously rewarding experience and I’m very much looking forward to future participation.  As long as they don’t ask me to play a zombie!

In other news, work on the second COAST espionage thriller is progressing, but slowly.  Life intervenes, as it always does, but as well as this I’m suddenly finding that a whole heck of a lot more research is needed to kick-start the novel.  This, however, is not a bad thing.  The more research I can do, the more real the narrative will be, and that’s an important factor.  I guess it also gives me more time to allow the ideas to simmer in my brain-box and thereby develop further, and that’s no bad thing either.  I’m going to hit the writing really hard over the festive season and I’m looking forward to it.  The new story is definitely a different animal than the first, but I’m excited about the direction it’s taking.  As volume two of my expostulated tetralogy / quadrilogy, it needs to answer a few questions left hanging by the first and set up a bunch more intrigue for the third and fourth.  But that’s all part of the fun of it.

Edit-update:  There were a couple of tiny mistakes in ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial’ which were really annoying me on pages 159 and 202.  Nothing harmful to the overall story, but I’m a detail nut so what the heck?  Might as well fix ’em.  Unfortunately there’s no change for the ebook version as those nice people at Bookbaby will want an arm, a leg, a pound of flesh AND my firstborn to incorporate the changes into the existing product.  The printed version, however, will reflect the changes once current stocks have been depleted.  What this means for you, my friend, is that if you want to buy a printed copy either from me, my e-store or one of the other outlets (such as McN&R, Alibris or Amazon), you should wait a few days for the new stock to filter through.  Inbox me for further details.

And that’s all for now.  Roger and out, X.

Posted by XanderRichards at 2 November 2012

Category: News

Okay, so, no blog posts for a while as I have been RUDELY busy with things.  Sorry about that, but honestly would you rather me write this or the next book?  No, really.  :-)

Despite the ghastly and treacherous conditions on the roads (snow on ice; never a good mix), today was a good day for two reasons, the first of which being that I munched my lunch with a bunch of local writers.  Wes Funk (who kindly invited me), Gary Chappell, Marion Mutala, Jefferson Smith and I met at The Coachman and discussed all kinds of interesting stuff to do with writing, publishing, editing and so on.  Honestly, I felt like a total newbie amongst them, even though my book’s been out for six months already and Gary’s official launch is this Tuesday.  That said, he’s on the board of a local writers’ group so he’s clearly well involved in all this stuff and therefore totally trumps me in that sense.  Very nice group of people though, and everyone was very welcoming to me.  I hope to interact more with the local writing scene, my inherent sociophobia notwithstanding.

The other reason that today was a good day is because I got rid of a big box of books to one of my favorite stores, Brit Foods.  Run by a very fine gentleman called Tony Badger, Brit Foods is a home-from-home source of goodies from the old country for any Brit ex-pat.  They have stores in Saskatchewan, BC and Alberta, and ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial’ will be for sale in them all.  This is excellent news and I’m super pleased.  Now I gotta order some more!

Another really good thing which deserves mention (and should have been mentioned well before now) is that I’m doing a book signing at McNally Robinson, 3130 8th Street East, Saskatoon on Sunday December 9th.  You can find McN&R close to the junction of 8th Street and Circle Drive and the event starts at 1:00PM.   But this is no ordinary book signing!  Not only do you get the author of the novel, but the awesome cover artist as well!  Yes, my fine art painter friend Jonathon Earl Bowser will be there with a selection of prints and his own book, ‘The Lotusmaiden‘.  Come along and say hi!

Right, anyway, there you have it.  Be there or be square, as they say!  And that is all for now.

Roger and out, X.

Posted by XanderRichards at 24 September 2012

Category: News

Getting the timing right… that’s a toughie.

You see, things can’t just happen at random times or—put another way—be chronologically inaccurate.  To quote an example, yesterday, the missers and I were watching ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets‘.  It’s a great little movie, one of the better ones of the Harry Potter series.  It’s also one of the better-constructed stories of the seven, but I digress.  In the third act, when Harry and Ron force Gilderoy Lockhart down the hole into the chamber, Lockhart takes just a second to announce “It really is quite filthy down here”, indicating that he’d arrived at the bottom.  However, when the two heroes make the same journey, the viewer notices that their plummet takes quite a lot longer (and involves a lot of yelling as they fall through the labyrinthine tunnels).

It is about such things that I write, if on a grander scale.  You see, that kind of dichotomy jars the viewer and harms the suspension of disbelief.  Whether you’re a detail nut like me or a passive movie-watcher, you couldn’t help but notice such a drastic difference.  Yes, I know it’s a case of filmakers’ licence, and that such decisions are ultimately taken to make a better movie, but how can the latter be true when it harms one’s viewing experience?  I can’t have stuff like that happening in my stories.

The chronological plotting for ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial’ worked out pretty well, thank God.  I managed to get it all to fit into the timeline that I’d planned, and it seemed realistic, which was the goal.  Hopefully, one day, someone will take the time to figure out which year AAOB takes place in, just like they have with the Potter series.  Of course, I know what year it is, but it would be great if someone was interested enough to do such a thing, right?

The next novel is proving to be a much harder nut to crack in this regard.  The reason is that it’s becoming something of a ‘road movie’ or, if you prefer, ‘road book’.  There’s a lot of travel involved—a total distance of over 13,000 miles—and that all has to happen in realistic time scales.  I therefore decided that the best thing to do was to set a provisional date for the end of the narrative and work backwards to find the start.  I would have to be flexible, considering the massive number of variables, but as long as I’m in the ballpark I can tinker with the details later.  So the last couple of days off work have been spent calculating times and distances, speeds and dates—even stuff like fuel consumption and bunkering (look it up Sherlock).  Without being shockingly indiscreet, I’ll just say that Google Earth has been getting a good workout.

I’ve got the prologue pretty much written now.  I’m just hashing out some forensic details with my old friend Gary, who knows about such things.  But as to the date on which the prologue actually happens, I’m advancing my way backwards toward it.  And, in a topsy-turvy, back-asswards sort of way, that’s progress.  Or is it ssergorp?

Roger and out, X.

Posted by XanderRichards at 20 August 2012

Category: News

It was never my intention to write a trilogy at all.  In fact, I saw the COAST espionage stories as a never-ending highway heading over the horizon.  There are fifteen TDR teams in the organization and each of them has both a past and a future.  There are so many stories which could be told, I really thought I’d just keep writing them ad infinitum, just like the esteemed Mr Cussler keeps Dirk Pitt™ going (no, I’m not convinced that ‘Crescent Dawn‘ is his last appearance).

This being said it now seems that the arc of the first story which I want to tell is going to form itself neatly into three novels.  I had a brainwave, a flash of inspiration which plummeted from the heavens into my humble cerebrum, that crystallized or coalesced the wider narrative into three, all linked by certain themes. Now, whether that’s actually going to come to pass is of course entirely uncertain at this stage.  Who really knows what the next fifteen minutes will bring, never mind the next fifteen years?  It could go on and on, but I’m pretty confident that it’s not going to end at two.

Writing and/or filming trilogies is somewhat fashionable, I know, but I assure you that I didn’t plan it like that, all ‘Matrix’- ‘Hunger Games’- or Lewis’ Space Trilogy-like.  However, the aforementioned brainwave did bring me some insight how to tie up a massive bunch of loose threads which all headed in the same kinda direction but never actually met.  Moreover, it leads well into an even wider possible arc, which I’ve long considered exploring but which seemed a little too outlandish to somehow be worked in — even though I sowed the seeds of it a long time ago when writing the first novel (read it yet?  See if you can spot them!)

But we shall see.  Maybe I’ll get fed up with it after I’ve finished this one (NOT!)

In other news, I’m absolutely loving my new calendar software.  I’ve been looking for something to replace the awesome PalmOS calendar on my Treo 680 since it was retired a few months ago, and I’ve finally found something.  I’ve been through a lot of contenders, none of which have matched the excellent functionality I used to enjoy… until now.

Pimlical is calendar software for both Windoze and Android which is amazingly flexible, configurable and comprehensive.  Such flexibility seldom comes without complexity but Pimlical remains user-friendly and easy to both set up and use.  Synchronization between desktop and … err … phone-top versions is easy and, as if that wasn’t enough, it imports all the data from the PalmOS calendar meaning that my important work records of yesteryear are both available and usable.  Kids, this is amazing software and I wholeheartedly recommend it.  Moreover, Pimlico Software’s CEO Steuart Dewar is one of the most helpful software developers I’ve ever known and his customer support is second to none.  If you want a top-notch calendar for either or both Windoze and/or Android, look no further; Pimlical delivers.  A well-deserved 5/5 stars!

Last but definitely not least, I would just like to personally thank all the readers who’ve written to me to tell me how much they enjoyed ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial‘.  It’s really encouraging to get good feedback from you kind folks, so THANK YOU for buying, reading and taking the time to drop me an email.  I appreciate you!

And that is all for now.

Roger and out, X.


P.S.; The name ‘Dirk Pitt’ is a registered trademark of Clive Cussler.  Sorry if your actual name happens to be ‘Dirk Pitt’… I guess you’re screwed.

Posted by XanderRichards at 11 August 2012

Category: News

Please forgive the unusually long silence between blog posts.  The whole thing with mum dying kinda threw a spanner in the works.  But no worries; I’m back on the bounce!

Work on writing the sequel to my espionage novel ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial‘ is progressing steadily.  I’ve heard many authors say that it’s difficult to figure out how to begin a new novel, and a fair number of sources have added that you have to jump into the story right away.  In particular—and, as I’ve mentioned before—I love the first paragraph of the old Max Shulman novel ‘Sleep Till Noon‘, which says “Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Four shots ripped into my groin and I was off on the greatest adventure of my life!”  There you have it, straight into the action like a … well … projectile weapon to the nether regions.

There’s a particular incident in my new novel that I was quite happy with as the beginning.  It worked well, giving the story that necessary push to get the reader into the narrative.  If you’ve read the first one, you’ll know what I mean.  However, it never really sat quite right with me and, on top of that, there’s another related incident a couple of chapters in.  You know how it’s said; “I just wasn’t feeling it”.

So I had the idea to swap these incidents around.  It’s a bit of work, but, I reasoned, worth a try.  So I spent some time crafting a new introduction to the sequel and started thoroughly enjoying it.  I was getting a vibe!  Next, I considered moving the two incidents closer together in time, and… I can’t really say anything else without giving away some crucial stuff and being, as JK Rowling once put it, ‘shockingly indiscreet’.

Anyway now I feel like I’ve got a fresh wind on top of the first fresh wind and it’s great!  I’m steaming ahead and having a lot of fun with the new prologue.  This story is more of a travelogue than the last one, and more creepy, but there’s a lot of humor too.  It’s going to be a blast and I’m SO looking forward to it!

And that is all for now.
Roger and out, X.

Posted by XanderRichards at 31 July 2012

Category: News

Dear friends, yesterday my mum died.  She was 87.

It’s not book or espionage-related news, but I wanted to squirt out a few words in memoriam, as it were.  Just to remember and celebrate her life, you know?  This is the only forum I really have, so I might as well make use of it.

I don’t know where my mum was born but she grew up as the middle sister of three.  I do know that she traveled a lot as a child and lived in Egypt for quite a while when her soldier dad was posted there.  Obviously she was born after the First World War but she served in World War Two as some kind of WAAF aircraft mechanic.  She was young though; only twenty by the time the war ended.  Again, there’s a gap in my knowledge here, with only vague memories to fill it.  I believe she was engaged to some guy before my dad, but decided to call it off at the last minute.  Anyway, she and dad met through some military thing—probably work.  They married, and the first home all three of us shared was in a place called Chilwell (sounds like an instruction for beer storage).  My dad worked for the Ministry Of Defence at the time and my mum stayed at home to look after me.  During my very early years her own dad passed, yet I still have faint memories of a white-haired old man in Hall Green, Birmingham.

Although my parents and I certainly never saw eye-to-eye, they looked after me very well indeed.  Dad always worked hard to support us, and mum worked in the home, keeping it spotless and clearing up after her brat (me).  Boy, did I ever cause them some grief and trouble!  After I left home my parents and I started to drift apart.  My dad suffered a stroke and my mum moved them to be near her own mother and elder sister in Herefordshire.  In 1993 my dad died from a heart attack at the ripe old age of 82 and two years later my grandmother also died, right on my mum’s birthday of all days.  My mum and her elder sister then moved to Derbyshire to live in the same village as the youngest sister.  Mum stayed independent, living on her own and taking care of herself even though her mobility was decreasing.  It was only in the last couple of months that she actually had to give up her apartment and move into a home.  By the sound of it, she didn’t like it very much.

Like I alluded to earlier, we never really got on too well, but I choose not to remember the difficulties.  I choose to remember an amazing woman who was a solid anchor in my life and looked after me like only a mother can right up almost until the end.  She was a remarkable person and it feels very strange to know that I’ll never hear her overly-concerned tone on the telephone again.

“How are you dear?”
“Great, mum.  Things are going really well, life’s a bowl of cherries.”
“Really?  Oh dear… I’d better send you some money.”

Goodbye mum, it was fun.


Posted by XanderRichards at 16 July 2012

Category: News

It’s been a little while since I last posted on here and I feel a bit bad about that.  Sorry!  But the good news is that I’ve been very busy with all things ‘booky’, and that includes both selling the first espionage novel and writing the second one.

Well, I say writing, but actually ‘planning’ is closer to the truth.  I’ve had a lot of very good ideas which I’ve been weaving into the proto-narrative.  I’ve also fleshed out a couple of scenes to be included later on.  These are mostly detail ideas; the actual espionage story arc is pretty much done.  I’ve got a new idea for the prologue which would really raise the stakes, so I’m going to go back and do some rewriting on that, then I need to push ahead with the serious business of writing the book.  I hope this one doesn’t take a quarter of a century!  I confess that espionage is hard (not that I really have much experience of other non-factual genres) because I like it to be very ‘real world’, and that requires a lot of research.

Actual MI6 espionage / spycraft headquarters in London UK

This place features in the Bond movie "The World Is Not Enough".

Whilst I’m still waiting for complete figures from the online retailers, I am pleased to report that the printed version is selling really well.  But unfortunately I’m going to miss the regional book fair which is happening later this week.  I’m pretty miffed that I only found out about it at the last minute but what can you do?  This has, however, spurred me on to getting some business cards printed because there have been a couple of times whence friends and acquaintances have asked about the book and I’ve been unprepared.  Now at least I’ll have something to hand out, even if I don’t have a copy of the book on me.

Steve the marketing whiz is supposed to be coming over today to get some of his cunning voodoo done, but in the meantime let me do some marketing for a colleague.  My friend and fellow author Diane Rapp (who graciously gave me an extremely favorable review of ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial’) is launching the third novel of her sci-fi trilogy today.  I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first one, whilst the second is currently sitting on my to-read list.  You can find Diane’s homepage here and her Facebook here.  There’s also a Facebook launch party going on.  Go check it out!

Back to marketing my own book.  Steve has now been given something of a green light by the federal government and is pursuing his own dreams here in Canada.  This is great news for me, because it means he can devote his not-inconsiderable skills to promoting my espionage novel.  Indeed, you might have noticed the unusually large number of mentions of the word ‘espionage’ in this post.  Well, sorry if it gets in the way; we’re testing out some new software and using this post as a guinea-pig (or should I say ‘guinea-penguin’ for those who are in-the-know?).

Roger and out, X.

Posted by XanderRichards at 9 June 2012

Category: News

At perhaps twelve years old, a classmate of mine decided that he was going to be a writer.  His first attempt, if memory serves, was about a rather intelligent parrot called Albert, who was found on the top deck of a bus.  (Who knows?  Perhaps Albert the parrot became incredibly famous in the intervening nearly four decades whilst I just didn’t notice, and enraged copyright lawyers with their hellish minions are descending as I write… but I digress.)

For his next stab at a story, he brought a map to school.  It wasn’t a great map, just a simple large-scale road map of the English Lake District, but for some reason a little light-bulb came on in my brain upon seeing this and I knew, somehow, that if I was going to write a story I would need maps.

Fast-forward to recent years and ‘COAST: An Act Of Burial’ has escaped into the wild.  Today of course we have loads of resources at our disposal because of the internet.  Things like Google Earth, the birds-eye view on Bing and so on.  Heck, even my spanky new ‘phone has crazy GPS skills, although none of these gadgets are really up there with the good old Ordnance Survey.  We’re spoiled with all the information that’s available to us.  In writing the novel, these kinds of facilities became very useful to me as I was able to zoom in to street level views and figure out where things were; where events should be happening and how that would be affected by their surroundings.  I’ve received some excellent—and very kind—comments about the geographical realism of C:AAOB and it’s all come about through the use of maps.  Who would have thought that this all stemmed from an idea by a lad I went to school with?

The reason I mention this is that I’m studying maps again now.  This time, I’m writing the sequel and I’ll just admit that it takes place in some entirely different geographical locations than the first one.  Of course, this also means researching the range capabilities of certain aircraft and I’ve probably said a little too much already.  Suffice to say that I do intend for any COAST novel to be something of a travelogue for the pleasure of the reader and all this research is therefore necessary—and I enjoy it too.  Have fun figuring out the locations as you read!

Roger and out, X.