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In common with half the world, I use this rather peculiar time of year to reflect on what I have done in the last twelve months and what I hope to do in the next.  I will admit that I have been slightly cast down by the slow sales figures for the Sam Plank books; just between you and me, I am always hoping for that Big Break, for someone influential to stumble across Sam and declare, “Why – this character is magnificent!  I shall ensure that he will star in his own Sunday evening period drama series, with endless money thrown at production values!”.  It might yet happen, but we’re four books in and no-one influential is doing much stumbling.

But at this time of good cheer and so on, it is perhaps better to remind myself of how much Sam is liked by those who have discovered him.  Looking at my recent reviews on Amazon, I see that Mr L Moss was keen on “Worm in the Blossom”: “The two previous books in this series were excellent but this, the third, was even better – before I reached the end of page one I was hooked.”  Continuing the angling metaphor, someone called ‘Hooked on Books’ has been working his/her way through the series, starting with “Fatal Forgery”: “I struggled to put down my Kindle, and found myself contemplating the plot in my head whilst nodding off.  Very gripping read and now on to the next in the series.”  And on Twitter, ‘Leigh (on the left)’ thrillingly declared “Worm in the Blossom” to be his “best read of 2016”.

So what plans for 2017?  I am – as ever – thinking of new ways to promote Sam, and I’m on the trail of a couple of ideas, including giving him away on the Tube…  And on the technical side of things, I have registered with Nielsen’s as a small publisher.  Nielsen’s are the people who fulfil orders for bookshops, so once my titles are listed with them – it’s a rather Byzantine process, but we’re getting there – then any bookshop in the land will be able to order the Sam books through the Nielsen website/phone-line.  And they will send the order to me, and I will fulfil it.  Of course, if I get hundreds of orders, I’ll be in trouble – and with postage costs, mightily out of pocket – but I thought it was worth trying the system to see how it works.  As ever, I’ll keep you posted, as I know other self-published authors like to know these things.

I am taking a short break from blogging and Tweeting – but not, of course, from Sam and Martha, as we’re in the middle of researching Caribbean poisonous plants – and so may I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful new year.