Thames Valley Tales

Audiobook for the Blind

I was thrilled when someone mentioned the Windsor Talking Newspaper charity in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Their volunteers provide a valuable information service for blind people in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council area. They distribute a USB memory stick each week to their subscribers with local and national news stories read and recorded by volunteers – what a great idea.

I met with the organisers and they thought it was a good idea to serialise my short stories in Thames Valley Tales, voiced by actor Richard James, onto each weekly issue for an eight week run.

This will start after Easter, and I’m looking forward to the feedback from their 1,000-odd subscribers across the RBWM Council area.

It is hoped that stories located locally that reflect contemporary issues and evoke some of the rich history and legends associated with the river Thames will surely resonate with the audience.

The Merry Women of Windsor is a comic update of Shakespeare’s classic play; Runnymede Rebellion is a human drama that examines the meaning and relevance of the personal freedoms enshrined in Magna Carta; and Maidenhead Thicket sees the ghost of highwayman Dick Turpin surprise a Council surveyor.

Other stories in the collection of nine are set in Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Newbridge, Goring-on-Thames and the Uffington White Horse.

Audiobook fans can find Thames Valley Tales on Amazon Audible and Apple iTunes store. It’s also available from Amazon in paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited via this link:

Anatomy of an Audiobook

To my mind, an audiobook is half way between a good read and an engaging TV drama or film.

By this I mean a good narrator with appropriate sound effects can bring out the visual qualities of a book in the mind of the listener – painting a picture of a scene, if you will.

In my new audiobook, Thames Valley Tales (March 2023 release) I took advice and read my stories aloud, noting how dialogue between characters sounded and made adjustments. I found my writing style was somewhat formal, and changed a lot of ‘could haves’ to ‘could’ve’ and so on.

I also hired an actor, Richard James, to narrate and produce it, and have marvelled at his ability to bring the various characters to life through use of accents and verbal foibles or signatures, making each one stand out. He also introduced appropriate music at the start of each story in the collection for genre orientation and identified appropriate sound effects.

The net result is to bring my stories to life, lifting them off the page to play out scenes in the mind of the listener in a very visual evocation.

I’m excited. It’s my first audiobook and my tactic of selecting nine stories from a pool of fifteen that I feel have the best visual qualities has paid off. Listen and be amazed.

This collection of nine contemporary tales that resonate with the rich history and legends associated with the flowing heart of England must surely be picked up by a film or TV producer looking for the next big hit!

Here’s the trailer I’ve just posted on YouTube… and watch out for the March launch:

I’ve been busy and, whilst the audio was being recorded, have taken down the first edition of Thames Valley Tales e-book and paperback, replacing them with new second editions. The paperback is currently on discount at £4.99 and the Kindle e-book at £1.99.

Here’s an Amazon universal link:

Thames Valley Tales – Free Promo

Contemporary tales that echo the rich history of the flowing heart of England…

Thames Valley Tales is a collection of 15 short stories written by myself between 2013-2015 and first self-published on Amazon Kindle in July 2105.  To coincide with my presentation on Self-Publishing at Slough Library today (Thursday 2nd June 2016), and to demonstrate the ‘free promotion’ option on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP),  I have made the book a FREE download for today and Friday 3rd June…so what are you waiting for?

Please download, read, and leave a review, nominating your favourite stories…



Thames Valley Tales promo masthead

Devil Gate Dawn…out now!

DevilGateModifiedPixMy first novel, Devil Gate Dawn, is now up and available to download from amazon kindle store.  It will normally be £2.10/$2.99 per download, but for this weekend, Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th April it will be a FREE DOWNLOAD.

I badly need your support to read and review this short novel, hence the two day free promo.

UK readers:

USA readers:

also available in amazon territories worldwide.

Devil Gate Dawn is a tense near-future thriller set in the UK and USA in the year 2026.  Retired railway worker, George Osborne, is drawn into a battle with a terrorist group as the country slides into chaos.  Will he succeed in neutralising a deadly internet virus and help rescue the kidnapped King Charles III?  Find out as dawn breaks at Devil Gate Drive…


Don’t have an Amazon Kindle reader?  You can download their fee app and read on any device:

FREEDOM and Magna Carta

Braveheart ‘Freedom!’ – The battle cry of William Wallace, the blue-faced Scottish army leader played so memorably by Mel Gibson in the Hollywood blockbuster, Brave Heart.  What is this elusive state, ‘Freedom’?  The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as, ‘The state or fact of being free from servitude, constraint, inhibition’ and is closely related to Liberty, defined as: ‘Exemption or release from slavery or imprisonment.’ In fact, for as long as humans have lived in organised society, with hierarchical structures, there has been conflict between leaders and those who do not want to be led, or have other ideas.

The struggle for freedom is as old as systems of governance and organised religion. The Scots, under Wallace, fought for their freedom from the hated English who had conquered them and subjugated them to demeaning conditions, leading to their collective rebellion.  Rebellion is a common theme in history, and events leading up to 1215 in England were to prove to be pivotal in the creation of laws to protect the individual from the unchecked tyranny of powerful leaders. The influence of the ‘Great Charter of Freedom’ or Magna Carta, sealed 800 years ago in 1215 by a reluctant King John, has spread across western civilization and formed the basis for the definition of human rights and individual freedoms under the Law, such as the right to a fair trial.  As Winston Churchill put it, “Magna Carta was…the foundation of principles and systems of government of which neither King John nor his nobles dream’d.” It may have been a slow burner, but the influence of Magna Carta started to form the basis of English Law and Governance about a century later.

It was not the first time that an English king had made a contract with his nobles to get them off his back.  In 1014 Anglo-Saxon king Ethelred II gave similar promises, and so a precedent had been set. Magna Carta was therefore not a unique one-off, but part of an ongoing process whereby nobles sought to clip the wings of an all-powerful monarch.  By 1215 the nobles had simply had enough of the greedy, cruel and unpredictable rule of Plantagenet kings, and pushed for a firm set of rules to which the king must adhere.  Heavy stuff for a Christian Nation with a King by Divine Right. The true authors of Magna Carta are not known – it was probably drafted by a group of Nobles and Churchmen, and contained a whopping 97 clauses. King John may have put his seal to it, but he had no intention of honoring it, and spent the next few years making war on the 15 rebel barons who were set up as a sort of steering committee to ensure the king complied with the charter.

Magna Carta has been described as a mixed bunch of ideas and demands, some timeless and others odd, petty or malicious.  There are clauses on standardising weights and measures, firing French officials, the unrestricted movement of merchants, and the supply and control of corn.  There is even a clause on the removal of fish-weirs on the river Thames.  These perhaps petty clauses rub shoulders with a few inspired ones that have stood the test of time and influenced a number of republican constitutions, law books and the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.human rights1

However, the terms of the document are set out at the beginning, with the ground-breaking assurance that “…we have granted to all the freemen of our realm for ourselves and our heirs forever all the liberties written below…”  For a king to grant such rights to ‘freemen’ in perpetuity was a momentous step. Clause 39 contains perhaps the most important sentence in legal history: “No freeman shall be arrested or imprisoned or dispossessed or outlawed or banished or in any way molested… except by the lawful judgement of his peers and the law of the land.” Clause 40 states that “to no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice.”  These last two clauses are still in the law of England, and form the basis of the principle that no one could be detained without trial.  These ideas of due legal process and equality under the law have spread across the western world, to the extent that they are almost seen as universal rights. The implications for our times are that most developed countries have advanced to having democratic systems of government and high levels of personal freedoms for its citizens, under the Rule of Law.  However, some still see it as restrictive that all must comply with the Law (a set of guidelines or rules evolved over generations that define the boundaries of acceptable behaviour).  Some may seek to live outside of organised society to avoid complying, and thus assert their personal freedom to live how they want. We have an elected Parliament of regional representatives who ensure that citizens have a say how the country is run and follow debates in Parliament concerning issues and laws through a free and fair media (in theory!).

Of course, there will always be debates, discussions and disagreements concerning what is the right course of action in any instance, but this process is ‘out in the open’ and all can contribute to it through freedom of speech.  Some say the ‘freedom’ agenda has been hijacked by the rich and powerful, who twist it to serve their own purpose (see my short story, Runnymede Rebellion, in Thames Valley Tales for my take on this… Unscrupulous political leaders, with extreme agendas, will always try to subvert or constrain our rights and freedoms.  However, the onus is on us, as individuals, or by mobilising civil society, to resist such actions and re-affirm the hard-fought freedoms others before us have battled to win, and defend them with vigour. FREEDOM2 We no longer have to fight for our basic human rights as a society (although sometimes we may have to fight to assert our individual rights, usually through the law courts).  Now we are the custodians of our rights, and must defend them to the hilt!

Aside…Ronald Reagan must have had inspired speech writers…Will never forget the ‘dissidents are disagreeable’ blunder…’err… no Mr President, the dissidents are fighting for freedom…we’re supporting them.’

Long live freedom!