Thursday, 20 January 2011


The second edition of my Bullycide Death at Playtime is released today in paperback and all ebook formats by BeWrite Books (the first time I have published my own work through BB – and yep, it did go through the formal and rigorous submissions process like any other author submission).

I’d resisted requests for a re-release since the first mass-run was sold out five years ago, feeling that the book had done its job and that the fight against potentially lethal school bullying that it sprung on supposedly responsible authorities when it first hit the streets was now running under its own steam. But that demand has become so pressing that I had to reconsider.

The release is set to coincide with three anniversaries: the tenth of its first release, the forty-third of the disappearance of Stephen Shepherd, the tragic little boy whose death put me on the alert all those years ago, and the fifth of the death of my co-author, the admirable Tim Field, (he always refused to be addressed by his hard-won title, Dr) who contributed expert comment at the foot of my chapters and passages of invaluable practical advice for parents, education authorities and young targets in the danger zone. He was a tireless and fearless anti-bullying campaigner until cancer claimed him,  far too young and at the height of his courageous fight against intimidation in all its cruel forms.

This is the book that blew the lid off the bully-associated child suicide epidemic I named ‘bullycide’ in an (admittedly ambiguous) new term meant to sum things up in a simple, memorable single word. ‘Bullycide’ was perfect for newspaper headlines and has now firmly entered the vocabulary of not only English-speaking nations around the world.

The shattering statistics we compiled were the first ever  recorded on what had been a secret and fatal school syndrome that causes terror and death at playtime. The intensive research took me several years because there was nothing at all to go on in the nineties when I got to work on the book that had been eating away at me since the day of the grim coroner’s inquest into Stephen Shepherd’s mysterious death.

Heartbreaking first-hand interviews and case histories in these pages opened the eyes of an indifferent world. It’s also a book crammed with useful, encouragingly optimistic, advice. It has spawned countless other books, official action, scholarly reports, plays, movies, parent-teacher groups, media campaigns and websites. And there is no doubt that it has saved many young lives.

But has the world really learned since its original publication exactly ten years ago? Are things getting better for embattled kids who see life as a fate worse than death, or are the bullies using new, more covert means to practice their lethal evil in the cellphone texting and internet age?

This second edition – not so much an update as a history lesson (and those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it) – is by overwhelming popular request that we cannot deny.

You can read more about the book and its authors, a free excerpt and reviews in the BeWrite Books Bookstore at It is available in paperback and ebook formats there and at Amazon and will be available in paperback at all other major and minor online stores within a few days. The ebook editions for all electronic reading platforms from PCs to smartphones have already gone universal to all main retailers. (Pssst – and don’t confuse this new edition with the single first-edition copy on sale at a ‘collectors’ item’ price on Amazon by a private seller – even though its original price of $460 has been reduced to an equally obscene $258!)

Many thanks to BeWrite Books' brilliant technical and design director, Tony Szmuk, for his beautifully re-worked cover and outstanding new inside text and picture layout. Like most things at BB, it couldn’t have happened without him. Thanks too to my editorial team members, Hugh McCracken and Sam Smith for their encouragement.

Below are just a few early reviews that reflect the impressions of other reviewers over the years. Best wishes. Neil M.


The authors make their purpose clear. They intended to shock, and they succeeded. Although tragic stories dominate the book, there’s lots of practical advice too. It’s an angry book … an excellent book – a call to action and a cry on behalf of unhappy children. Gerald Haigh. Times Education Supplement.

Marr and Field have coined the word ‘bullycide’ to describe the tragic decision of children to choose suicide rather than face another day of bullying. The book provides statistics, case studies and expert advice. Mary Stevens. UK Press Gazette

A horrifying book … shocking … should be required reading for every education authority.
Liz Carnell. Yorkshire Evening Post.

Screams failure of all adults.  Hellen Connel. London Free Press

A major new book … exposes child suicide caused by bullying. Geoffrey Shryhane. Lancashire Evening Post

The book uncovers an almost secret syndrome, which is reaching epidemic proportions. The authors slam the authorities for doing little to tackle the problem. Stephanie Bell. Sunday Life

Reveals the extent of childhood bullying and the despair that pushes British kids to attempt suicides … 19,000 every year. All schools write virtuous policies, but few put their fine intentions into practice.
Yasmin Alibhai Brown. The Independent.


Sunday, 16 January 2011


Author Sam Smith's paperback, Vera and Eddy's War, went digital today.

The original was the only title BeWrite Books had ever released in print-only format because of an electronics rights hitch, but demand for ebook editions has been too great to deny, so this magnificent non-fiction work is now made available in all formats from the BeWrite Books bookstore and all major and minor ebook stores worldwide.

Many thanks to Alex Marr for re-discovering the original files after a long an intensive search and to Tony Szmuk for recreating, re-formatting and re-designing them to make this ebook possible.

You can read more about this unique work and its equally unique author, see reviews and read an extract by going to the BeWrite Books bookstore at or clicking the open-book icon at the top right of this blog post.
Here's the back cover text:

Vera and Eddy were newly married in the early days of World War II; just one working-class couple among millions caught up in the fury of the devastating conflict.

Later, they used to talk and talk of their experiences. One day author Sam Smith decided to listen.

This remarkable book is the result of countless recorded interviews with Vera and Eddy, his late in-laws, and paints an unforgettably human and strikingly real picture of how two small people emerged, scorched but complete, from the flames of the biggest and bloodiest war in the history of mankind.

In their own words, Vera and Eddy lead us through the painful and the outlandish (sometimes with ghoulish humour), the desperate hopes and stark terrors of a time when Britain's doorsteps, schools, factories, churches and cinemas and distant invasion beaches and battlefields were all equally in the front line.

These were days when uncertainty was a constant companion and mutilation and death were never more than a moment away.

So expertly does Smith apply his no-frills narrative style, that the reader can hear the shattering explosions as pregnant Vera dodges the bombs blitzing her streets and feel the hot breath of shrapnel whipping past Eddy's ears in the killing zones of Normandy and Holland.
Smith's book is one of the most gripping, frantically-paced war stories ever written. What elevates it from the merely great to the truly magnificent is that every single word is true and from the very mouths of the couple who struggled to survive -- one at home with a new born babe, the other on foreign battle fields in a tin helmet and armed to the teeth.
Born in 1946 and now living in Maryport, Cumbria, UK and working as a freelance writer/editor, in his time, Sam Smith has been a psychiatric nurse, residential social worker, milkman, plumber, laboratory analyst, groundsman, sailor, computer operator, scaffolder, gardener, painter and decorator, change-maker in a seaside resort's penny arcade ... working at anything, in fact, that's paid the rent, enabled him to raise his three daughters, and that didn't get too much in the way of his writing.

With poetry and articles widely published, he has many sole-authored poetry collections, more than a dozen novels and a history/biography to his name. Since paperback publication of Vera and Eddy's War, Sam has also become BeWrite Books' poetry editor.

He's also become, over the years, my good and admirable pal.

Happy reading, folks and congratulations to Sam. Neil Marr

Friday, 7 January 2011


I don’t know how many of BeWrite Books’s authors are members of the UK-based Society of Authors but it could be well worthwhile joining if you aren’t.

Although the annual fee is steep –  currently £90.00 – membership includes associate membership of ALCS (the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society) which sends me a cheque most years for anything between £60-70.00 for  photocopying, etc. So membership in effect costs me the price of a magazine subscription.

For that, members receive a magazine four times a year and access to all the services that the Author’s Society provides: contract checking, courses, etc. Services also include personal expert advice for authors and the covering of costs if a member takes legal action.

What’s prompted me to write about this now is that last year the Society of Authors did some research among their members of experiences at author appearances (fees paid, expenses, festival’s merits, etc) and have now produced a booklet of results. For anyone thinking of doing public appearances this coming year it will make invaluable reading.

Yours. Sam Smith

Thanks for the tip, Sam. The SoA website is unclear as to whether membership extends to non-UK-based authors, but it’s certainly well worth checking, and there is a handy email contact address on the website at: If geographical location is not a roadblock, ALL BeWrite Books authors meet prime membership criteria.

Sam, Smith, by the way, is a prolific professional novelist (working in several genres) and poet with a whole shelf full of published books to his name. Several, including his newly released historical fiction, The Secret Report of Friar Otto, are available in paperback and ebook formats from BeWrite Books and major online bookstores.

Just go to the bookstore section of the website and you’ll find a list of his works, cover notes, extracts and biography if you click on the 'Our Authors' button there. Friar Otto is so new that it’s still featured on the store’s front page. Sam is also BeWrite Books’ excellent poetry editor.

Best Wishes. Neil