What’s unique about me and my books?

Many writers of non-fiction, including myself, suffer from a certain doubt.  It may come from inside our heads or be suggested by other people.


This is the question of not being different enough from other writers to be considered unique.  What I mean is that there are lots of books about, say, statistics, risk or Christianity. Why does the World need another one?  The same is true of books on almost any subject from gardening to starting a business to healthy lifestyles.  Nothing is truly new, unless you are reading the findings of the latest scientific research.



I have been reassured recently by the unanimous views of experienced writers participating in a webinar.  They all say that each person brings a unique contribution.

  • It may be a particular insight or experience.
  • It may be a story that illustrates a point in a new way.
  • Or it may simply be that the latest author has a certain unique way of expressing things that will communicate with some readers who had never quite got it from reading other books, similar as they might have been.

The other writers would all encourage me to keep at it.  If I have something to say, there are probably people who need to hear it.  I hope there are enough of them and I really hope some of you will find you get the message from my writings that you never got before.  Of course, if you do not, I hope you find the right writer for you.  Good luck!

What is a Christian book?

I have now written four works of non-fiction and am working on a detective novel.  As my last book How to Cope with the Church is an expression of my Christian faith, I have been asked:

  1. Whether it is a departure from my usual theme(s)
  2. Whether my novel will be a Christian book.

The answers are not simple.

  • I do refer to God, faith and the Bible in my three secular books, although the proportion of the books taken up by such things is so small that you would have to have a strong phobia of all things Christian to be unable to benefit from the books as a whole. And enjoy them.  The references are, I hope, relevant to the subjects I am writing about, rather than interruptions.
  • As a Christian, I hope all my books will help readers replace error and falsehood with truth. I hope too they will all help readers deal with various problems in their lives.
  • My understanding of life is influenced by my faith, as everyone’s understanding is affected by his or her beliefs and values, whether religious or secular. I do not claim that all my understanding comes from my Christian faith.  Like anyone else, my education, experience and environment play their parts too.
  • My fictitious heroes will not be committed Christians, neither will religion be a major topic in the novel. It is possible that in one of the sequels they will encounter Christianity in some way and be obliged to consider certain aspects of their beliefs.  I intend to make them consider many issues in due course.
  • I do not intend to let religion, politics or social concern get in the way of the story. I am writing whodunits not treatises.
  • If I am to be real, my beliefs will almost certainly come out in my writing, fiction and non-fiction, as is the case for most writers.

Finally, I do intend to write another book or two on specifically religious topics, but fear not: the titles and publicity will give sufficient warning to enable the more sensitive of you to steer clear of them.

Soap Box


Are you interested in the Occult?

As Halloween approaches, I observe that there are four kinds of people.

  1. Some people begin to think about the Occult.
  2. For others it is just a time to dress up and have a party.
  3.  Some are hostile to it.
  4. Then there are those who do not pay it any attention.

If you are in categories 1. or 3. you might like to look at an article I wrote two years ago on this subject.


Otherwise, enjoy the fancy dress and the parties.  Or just ignore it.



What do my books have in common?

I have now written four books.

  1. How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics
  2. Be Victorious!
  3. Load the Dice
  4. How to Cope with the Church

I set out more details later in this article.

Some people find it hard to detect a common theme.  This applies to my blogs and Ezine articles as well as to my books.  Do I lack a plan?

Well, to be honest, I do tend to write about all sorts of things.  You could say I do not have a one-track mind.  Or you could say I lack direction.  I am being myself.  But I do think there are some unifying elements, the most significant being myself.  All my writings reflect my thoughts, feelings and personality.  For better or worse.  Here are a few other common features.

  • Most of my books are short.  They are intended for people who do not have a lot of time for reading.  There are plenty of bigger books that cover the same topics in more detail.  OK if that is what you want.
  • I write in my own voice.  I do not try to put on a more literary style.  I want you to feel we are having a chat.
  • I draw on my experience of life.  Of course that includes things I have read or been taught, but I major on things I know are true and relevant for me.
  • I try to address issues I come across and that I know other people do too, so that I hope what I write will be helpful, whether in business, church or everyday life.

Fuller details of my books are:

  1. How to avoid being misled by statistics: don’t be one of the 60% who are below average.


ISBN/EAN13: 1499190484 / 9781499190489 Kindle ASIN: B00LPG8VUE

Price GBP 4.77 Kindle price  $3.40

2. Be Victorious!  Lessons from World War I for Business and Everyday Life.


ISBN/EAN13: 1500327905 / 9781500327903 Kindle ASIN: B00LPG913U

Price GBP 4.70  Kindle price $4.23

3. Load the Dice.  A simple guide to managing risks in small businesses          https://www.createspace.com/5163656

ISBN/EAN13: 1505480345 / 9781505480344  Kindle ASIN: B00R58W9NQ  Price GBP 5.76 Kindle price $5.55

4. How to cope with the Church. Practical help for would-be Christians.


ISBN-13: 978-1537365039 (CreateSpace-Assigned)  ISBN-10: 1537365037 Kindle ASIN: B01LZ53GBS

Price GBP 3.00 Kindle price $1.28

 I am now working on a detective story.  That will be longer than any of my other books and is intended to be interesting and entertaining rather than instructive.  It will, however, be in my style and will be drawn to some extent on my experience as well as my imagination.  I will not tell you which parts come from which.



Another useful little book

Bible for Dummies : Bible Journaling Made Easy

I have just read this little book and highly recommend it.  It is easy to read, humorous yet intelligent.  It explains not only the Bible’s contents but its origins and other issues around it.

 Speedy Publishing LLC  also on Amazon and Kindle


For those who are doing extensive studies on bible scriptures to enrich their lives as a christian, The Bible For Dummies: Bible Journaling Made Easy Book, is a wonderful companion book to have in making entries about the scriptures and their thoughts as they read the bible. A great journaling book to have!
  • 1681275724
  • 9781681275727

What have I missed out in ‘How to cope with the Church’?

There are a lot of things I have not included in this book.  You could probably think of several.  The reason for that is that I wanted to keep it short, simple and cheap.  I tried to concentrate on things I think people need to know.  Things that will help them overcome the most ‘popular’ difficulties in Church life.  If you have a few different ones, I am sorry.  If you let me know I will try to say something on my blog to help.  If I find there are enough, I will include them in my next book.

  • I have not said anything about other religions.  That is because I am trying to help people who are Christians or at least thinking of going to a Christian Church.
  • I have not dealt with any of the big intellectual difficulties some people have with the faith.  That is because most people I know are not worried about them.  I have tried to concentrate on the issues I think matter to most people.  If I am wrong, well, wait for the sequel.  Or get a book that does deal with your problem.
  • One thing I forgot to put on my last blog was the web address where you can order the book.  https://tsw.createspace.com/title/6534903


Have you seen the elephant?

No, I have not lost one.


No! That’s not an elephant!

I recently heard someone saying that children these days do not seem to show as much awe and wonder at the marvelous creatures that they see in the zoo as ‘we’ did.  I am not sure who ‘we’ included, but never mind.

I can think of two reasons why this remark may contain some truth.

  1. Children these days do not want to show too much ‘awe and wonder’ at anything as it is not cool, so they say.
  2. Children have seen lots of wildlife documentaries and are better prepared than some previous generations for the sight of amazing animals.

At one time, most adults, let alone children, would not have seen foreign animals in the flesh.  At best they might have seen a picture in a book or a painting in a gallery.


No, that’s not one either!

During the American Civil War there was an expression ‘To See the Elephant’, meaning to experience a battle.  The point of the metaphor was that anyone who had not been in a battle could not know what it was like.  No description did it justice.  [Sorry if you are a War Poet or even a War Correspondent: I did not invent the expression!]  In the same way, if you had never seen an elephant, no description quite conveyed what one was like, but once you had seen one you knew.

Thinking of this, I can understand the difficulty people have when trying to talk about a religious experience.  Their descriptions either make it sound banal, or seem so bizarre as to be incredible.  That is because God is not like us.  He is different.  All you can do is to try to liken him to something else.  Nothing quite works.  That is why the Bible is full of imagery.  Much of it contradictory.  The writers were struggling to convey something they had experienced that was like nothing else.

I may be wrong, but the people I am most willing to believe concerning their religious experiences are those who have greatest difficulty in describing them.  Those who sound too glib make me suspicious.

There is a similar problem for us authors.  We want our writing to be credible.  We want readers to be able to relate to our characters.  Yet we want to make the reader feel something extraordinary is happening, or else the story seems too mundane.  Great writers manage to bridge the gap.  They use words to convey the unusual, perhaps the near-incredible, in a way that readers can understand and relate to.

Am I a great writer?  Wait and see.  I know I have a challenge.


How to cope with the Church?

While working on my first detective novel, I have continued to write and speak on a number of other subjects.  I am about to publish another non-fiction book called How to Cope with the Church.

It is not intended for regular, lifelong committed churchgoers.  It is not for convinced atheists or others who regard religion as totally irrelevant.  It is not for people who are followers of a religion other than Christianity.

It is intended for the many people who are somewhere in between.

  • If you go to Church sometimes.
  • If you used to go and are not sure about going back.
  • If you find prayer or Bible reading difficult.
  • If there are things you are not sure whether to believe or not.

If you are one of those people, you might find this little book helpful.  I hope so.

It is published on Amazon and Create Space.  It is not expensive, only 3.00 pounds.  It is available on Kindle too, where it is even less expensive, only 99 pence.  I will always have a few copies handy too.

List Price: 3.00
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
64 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1537365039 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1537365037
BISAC: Religion / Christian Life / General
 Also on Kindle where it costs even less.

If you are a determined atheist this book is not for you. If you are strong in the faith it is not for you either. If you are somewhere in between, if you have problems with Church, Bible reading, prayer, if you have not been for a while and are nervous about going back, if you have doubts and questions and do not like to ask, then this book could be just what you need. John Harvey Murray shares insights gained from experience in many different churches on the journey of faith and life. If he can cope, so can you.

Go to CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/6534903
Kindle ASIN: B01LZ53GBS


What kind of words can I use?

“No adjectives!” cried John, the author, “No effing adjectives?  Who says?”

“It’s company policy.” replied Harvey, the executive from his publishers as he handed back the manuscript.


“Well, what stupid, blinkered, unimaginative, idiotic, moronic old fool came up with that one?”

“You’ve just used six adjectives, most of which were unnecessary.  They were synonyms, or nearly.  There was no need for the expletive in your previous remark, either.  You see how wasteful you are with words?”

“So is this an efficiency drive?”

“I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.  To answer your question, the policy came down from the top.  The senior partner, Mr. Roget, has recently stated the policy unequivocally and categorically.  By the way he’s not old.  He’s only in his forties, although they say his mental age has always been greater than his chronological age.”

“You’ve just used two adjectives.  You said ‘mental’ and ‘chronological’ and they’re near-synonyms.   What about adverbs?”

“They’re banned too.  Most of them are unnecessary.”

“You use them.  You just said ‘unequivocally’ and ‘categorically’ which are also near-synonyms.  And ‘unnecessary’ is an adverb too.  You’re as bad as I am!  Anyway, repetition is often used for emphasis.  We all do it in speech.  Why not in print?  I’ll bet a lot of famous writers would never get published if your Mr Roget had his way.  What about titles?  Do you allow adjectives and adverbs in them?”

“We certainly don’t encourage them.” said Harvey as he looked at the list of new titles he was holding.

“I suppose, if had been Dickens’ publishers, you would have published the Curiosity Shop!

Harvey replied, “If you’re going to be like that, I suppose it ought to be just the Shop.”

“Like the Girl with the Earring, or is that the Girl with the Ring?”

“Now you’re being silly and pedantic.” said a rather irritated Harvey.

“That’s good, coming from you!  What about the Sleep by Raymond Chandler, and Hardy’s Far from the Crowd?  Would you have told Louisa May Alcott to call her books Women and Men, not to be confused with the Man by H.G. Wells?  Or would Dashiel Hammett have had to call his book the Falcon?  Don’t you see that adjectives make a difference, sometimes an important one?”

“They’re all great writers who know when to use a word and when to leave it out.  You seem to think the more words the better.”

“Isn’t that a subjective opinion?  Some readers probably like it plain and simple, whilst others prefer a bit more colour.  If people in the art world thought like you and your Mr Roget, paintings would be reduced to diagrams.”

Harvey looked at the cover of a book on his desk.  There was a picture of matchstick men on a minimalist background.  He said, “I can think of some modern artists who do just that, quite successfully!”

“Yes, but not everyone wants that kind of thing.  Surely we want to give the readers a choice?”

“Go through your manuscript and take out all the adjectives and adverbs that don’t add anything to the narrative or even to the descriptions.  Then I’ll see if I can persuade the firm to give it another look.”

What is this site?

I have set up this blog so I can write about writing as opposed to my other blog john@jhmriskmanagementservices.co.uk where I write about Risk Management.  Of course I have written there about other things too sometimes, but as I am doing more writing, especially crime fiction, I want to be able to keep the two separate.

I have heard that some people are interested in crime fiction who are not interested in Risk Management and vice versa. I hope many of you will take an interest in both, but for those who want to keep to one or the other, this is for you.