Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Open Letter to Amazon

Okay, you wanted feedback. Here it is. After spending almost eight hours in chat sessions and on the telephone without obtaining any help at all for my kindle malfunction, I've decided enough is enough. I'll be looking for another device, from another company, to replace my kindle.

It wouldn't have been so bad if your incompetent people could just admit they couldn't solve the problem. But to be told such a barefaced lie as that it is not possible for a kindle to read an ebook from another retailer, when I have been doing exactly that without a problem for almost nine years, and then to have that lie compounded by the incredible rudeness of the operator refusing to engage in any dialogue but just repeating the same thing over and over and over - well, you see, I've had enough. 

One lie told in the context of a relationship where money changes hands is, in my opinion, a deal breaker. Congratulations, Amazon, you just lost yourself a customer.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Book review - Summer Lovin', by Jacquie Biggar

With all of the 'boy meets girl' romances out there, it is refreshing to find one that deals with the renaissance of a troubled marriage. And I always love what I call the 'braid' concept in romance series - where the main characters in one book become supporting characters in another, and the community as a whole persists throughout the series. It's often been done but it always works, I think.

This book is well written and the story is well told and captivating. I particularly loved the writer's use of the narrative voice when the point-of-view character was the bad guy. It was very well done indeed, and added depth and spice to the book.

There are a few flaws that, I felt, detracted slightly from the overall quality. Although I love the braid concept, I did think there was too much information about non-story characters forced on the reader, particularly at the beginning. The relevance of Jack, Tina etc would have been better dribbled out gradually. There were also a couple of continuity errors - one minor, but one major - that halted the flow of the read. Mainly, though, I'd have liked to see more space given to the development of Rebecca's feelings for her husband - her change of heart came about, I felt, too abruptly to work well, and I thought it should have started earlier and progressed more slowly.

All around though, an enjoyable read.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Speed Baiting - will it replace Speed Dating?

We've all heard of speed dating. I've always thought it sounded rather silly and uncomfortable, but you can't deny it's efficient - IF you don't mind everyone knowing you're a desperate loser, of course.

Well the trend continues, and now it is my great pleasure to introduce the new concept of Speed Baiting. It's a lot more fun than speed dating, and more useful, too.

Those of you who've done scambaiting know what a fun hobby it is. But it does take up time. Lots and lots of time. I had to give it up myself, when I started law school. I just couldn't afford the time any more. If you have not yet experienced the delights of scambaiting, of course, just head on over here:

Now, however, you can have something of the same fun without the massive time investment - and you don't even have to leave the comfort and privacy of your own Facebook messages. Vide the following little encounter I had with Donald Jinright Wade, to whom according to the honourable tradition of scambaiting, I shall henceforth refer as the Mugu.

TM: ?
TC: what
TM: Firstly i would like to know if you have been contact by any of our online agent..
TC: who the fuck are you and what are you talking about
TM: Have you heard about the Facebook online Microsoft promo going on and have you been inform about your winning ?
TC: what you talking about
TM: Your Facebook user name show up as number 8th from the 20 listed names that won this year 2015 winners of FACE-BOOK PROMOTIONS AWARD,And That's the reason why i was instructed by the Facebook Board to get you contacted on how your winning Funds will be release to you today once you are fully ready to claim it.
TC: what you talking about
TM: The online draws was conducted by a random selection of emails you were picked by an advanced automated random computer search from the Facebook in other to claim your $500.000.00 the lottery program which is a new innovation by Facebook, is aimed at saying a big thank you to all our users for making Facebook their number one means to connect, communicate, relate and hook up with their families and friends over the years ann.
TC: ok send me the money then
TM: I want you to know this is real and fully legit,the Facebook lottery promotion is organized to say a very big thank you to you for using Facebook over they years,the Facebook is the biggest social networking site on the internet scene and we cant stoop so low to run scam on our darling site users,BE REST ASSURED,THIS IS REAL AND FULLY LEGIT.
TC: hahaha I suppose it is 100% risky free
TM: Firstly you will have to write this numbers down because it is important and compulsory.Your name was among the 20 lucky winners who won $500.000.00USD (Five hundred Thousand United State Dollars) each on the Facebook group promotion award attached to

Lucky Number (FB-225-7736) Ticket Number (FB-172-60) Batch Number (FB-0281/544) Serial Number (99352748-2015)
Do write it down now and get back to me as soon as you are done
TC: yeah oh manny

I have wrote it down now send me the money hahahahaha
TM: All participant were selected through a computer balloting system drawn in Nine hundred thousand E-mail address on Facebook website from the listed continents/countries:Canada,Australia,United States, Asia, Europe,Middle East and Oceania as part of our international promotions program which is conducted annually.
TC: yeah whatever just send me the fucking money
TM: For security reason you are not to accept any friend request from anyone until your winnings get deliver to you,If any of our Facebook agent send you a request ask them ask for your winnings tag code(FB:367/23) before you accept it,if not provided don't accept the request those are the scam artist block them right away,Understood

TM now sends a series of pictures:

TC: yeah whatever send me the fucking money dude I need it for drugs
TM: You are to Reconfirmed some Data-Bases in which the Facebook Board will make use to get your Winning Certificate and all Necessary document available for you before they can release your winning Funds to you....
Full Name: Full Home Address : Phone number : Occupation: Marital Status: City : State: Age: Email Address:
Fill the gaps and get back to me Immediately!!
TC: whatever, man, just send me the money quick my dealer says he will cut off my toes if I don't pay him
TM: Oh my god..

TC: cause in my country that's what we do to people who play us false know what im sayin? Like if u tells lies or doesn't pay whats owing

but rest easy man, i will be ok now cause I've given him your name so he knows he can get the cash from you
hey thanks for that anyways
TM: But you have to fill out that information
TC: dont worry he will find you, you don't have to do anything cause they have the software man, they can find you

you can pay the dealer and then whats left over you can send to me ok?

At this point the mugu left the conversation and blocked me. Just as I was starting to have fun; some people have no consideration. I was really tempted to create another account and go after him pretending to be the dealer, but that would, after all, be against Facebook's Terms of Service. But there's nothing to stop anyone else from doing it! 

Thursday, 17 March 2016


The Problem

We're all familiar with the advice given to emerging writers. You cannot dispense with an editor for your work, the pundits say, and of course they are absolutely right.

However, it's a sad fact that the emerging writer often cannot afford the fees of a professional editor. You can't get blood out of a stone, and if your income is already fully accounted for, and there's no money for editing, you can hardly skip paying your rent, or send your children to school in too-small shoes. Over and over again I've seen writers bemoaning this fact, and sadly, the resort is often to go without editing and hope for the best, or to source a cut-price service on sites such as Fiverr, or to rely on the unskilled services of 'beta readers'. 

None of these options is really satisfactory, and we see the truth of this in the huge number of unedited manuscripts self-published by independent authors: manuscripts which often have a terrific story, and a really original idea, but are let down by the writer's lack of facility in his language. It is the poverty of English most of all that distinguishes the poorest quality self-published books that I have seen from their traditionally published counterparts.

To this end, I am proposing to offer a cut-price service, designed to be affordable by even the most impecunious client.

How It Works

1. The client will send me a representative sample of the work, this sample not to exceed 10,000 words. Note that this can be the beginning of a completed manuscript, but it can also be from a book that is not yet finished. 

2. I will analyse the sample and provide client with a list of corrections to be made to the whole work. The reason I can do this is that infelicities, and outright errors, in language are matters of habit. Whatever problems appear in the language of the sample are sure to recur throughout the work, because these are largely matters of misunderstanding of rules of grammar that the writer needs to address.  To this end, every grammatical issue that is highlighted for correction will be fully explained.


This service in no way replaces a full and comprehensive edit of the manuscript. Because the whole manuscript is not read, issues around plot, continuity, and to some extent, character development cannot form part of the process. The focus of the service is upon use of language only.

The service should be treated by the client as a learning experience, and should be backed up, at the very least, with at least three beta readers who will give feedback on issues around the story as a whole. Generally, beta readers are people who read widely in the subject genre and can therefore be considered as representative of a market. They do not customarily receive any payment, but neither should they be confused with editors.

I will be introducing this service forthwith at the flat rate of $50.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Book review - The Trouble With Werewolves, by M.B. Mulhall

A nice, fast-paced story, with sympathetic characters and good resolution. I particularly liked the sleazy, heart-of-gold demon and the vampire longing for the beach and sipping his blood through a straw with a little paper umbrella. There were little touches like this throughout, that lifted the story above the ordinary, and I do think this writer has real talent.

That said, the quality wasn't what I like to see in a published work. Rigorous editing ought to have firmed up the writer's shaky grasp of tense, and corrected a number of misspellings, and things like 'should of' and 'lay' used intransitively. The work is well worth the effort to give it the polish for which it cries out. 

The Trouble With Werewolves is available from AMAZON.

In other news, to celebrate finally getting Dance of Chaos out in hardcover, I'm offering my short story, Nigel's Holiday, free.

Get it here:

If you enjoy this story, you can find it and others in my collected short fiction, Once Upon A Dragon.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Book review - Yakshipuram, by Biju Vasudevan


This book was presented to me as a children's version of Kamayakshipuram, which I reviewed in January of this year. While that's a fair description, it doesn't, I feel, do complete justice to this fine piece of work, which seemed to me to be much tighter and more disciplined.

Lightened of Kamayakshipuram's erotic content, which did not really contribute anything to the plot or the purpose of the story, Vasudevan's delightfully Kafkaesque tale really shines. The gay abandon of the sordid temple devotees in their chaos evokes Josef K's assistants, in The Castle, in a really wonderful way, and the author's sparkling sense of fun wraps around the final message of deep spirituality in a way that is calculated to please all but the most cantankerous.

This author is not a native English speaker, and I do feel that the book would benefit from a very light polish by one who is; although his vocabulary and command of the language are superior to that of so many independent authors publishing today, correction of the few faults of language would allow this lovely piece of work to shine even more brightly.

I have watched this author's work emerge since his first book, and it is with great pleasure that I read and reviewed this one. I look forward to seeing what he will do next.

Yakshipuram is available from AMAZON in Kindle and paperback editions. 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Book review - Five Coffees, by Cathy Jackson

Five Coffees is a major departure from the author's more recent Bloom series, and I enjoyed it very, very much. I'm not quite sure whether to say it's her best work so far, because of my enduring affection for her earlier book, As You Wish, but it is a fine piece of Christian Fiction.

I was on the edge of my seat through much of the book. At times it seemed absolutely certain that the sad, widowed heroine and the gentle, decent hero were going to fall into adultery. No, I cried, no no no! They were in such danger and came so close. Seldom in a love story have I found such fearful suspense; it was terrifically exciting. Their struggle and eventual triumph was beautifully rendered.

One criticism I often have of writers of love stories is that they tend to go on too long, inserting spurious 'epilogue' chapters just to show that everyone lives happily ever after, or has a baby or something. Jackson deserves a medal for her discipline and restraint in ending Five Coffees just at the perfect moment, and this alone goes a long way to make the book the gem it is.

Five Coffees is available from AMAZON in Kindle and paperback editions.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Book review - The Witches' Journal, by Patti Roberts

For sheer fun I don't know when I've seen the like of this remarkable little book. It's a wonderful mixed bag of recipes, bath recipes, Celtic tree astrology, poetry and reference sections with the properties of herbs, colours, and stones. You could dip into it at random like a lucky dip, or perhaps concentrate on a section of interest. A bonus item included is a copy of Witchwood Estate - Going Home, the first book in the well-known Witchwood Estate series by this author.

The recipe section contains some very intriguing recipes, two of which were contributed by me and are delicious and super-easy, but the others all also look to be delicious and super-easy. The poetry section contains several poems by Barry Peabody, a poet in the style of Kipling of whose work I am fond. The sections giving the magical properties of stones, colours, herbs et alia could be used as a handy pocket reference by Wiccans and other spell-working New Age people - they are not encyclopaedic, but are solid, with all of the major items covered.

Well worth downloading, and I plan to add it to my Reference section just for the recipes.

The Witches' Journal is available free at SMASHWORDS

Monday, 7 March 2016

Book review - The Hot Dog King and Other Stories, by Wendell Thorne

Thorne is not a lean writer. He is baroque, embellished, laden with ornate curlicues.

This could be levelled as a criticism, and doubtless will be by some; the fashion of the moment is for very focussed short fiction, without side trails or stops for coffee. But I found them a breath of fresh air in today's world of genre-directed fiction.

The foundation of this very elaborate treatment, I think, rests with the characters. Thorne's characters live, they breath, they pulse with life and reality - even the minor characters, even the dead parents of characters are drawn with such detail that they practically jump off the page.

These four stories teem with all the life and colour of a fairground. They swept me away to other times, other places, without even a breath. 

The Hot Dog King and Other Stories is available from AMAZON in paperback and Kindle editions.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Book review - Darkly Dreaming, by Chloe Hammond

I'm not fond of vampire fiction, partly because I still see vampires as undead monster who need staking, but mostly because so much is now being written by independent authors that is cloned; same old forbidden love, same old superpowers, yada yada. But in Darkly Dreaming I found a fresh and original treatment of the old theme, with vampires that were an essential element of the plot, rather than a marketing tool.

The book opens well and strongly, and the opening chapters are a fine example of down-to-earth English chicklit; pungent, gritty characters and the irreverence that we see in English fiction and sadly, too seldom in American. I was drawn in by this to the extent that when the vampires made their appearance I was completely taken by surprise.

From that point, the book races along, with real problems, real for their essential humanness and a sympathetic treatment of the problems of those who are different. Hammond's vampires are every secretive, marginalised group in society. I found it utterly captivating. With all its social reality, though, the book is never heavy. Touches of humour keep it buoyant throughout. I did find the ending a little too 'happy-ever-after', but it certainly was neat, in the way that a Gilbert and Sullivan opera is neat; every loose end tied off, the good rewarded and the wicked punished. I'd certainly look for more from this writer.

Darkly Dreaming is available from AMAZON in paperback and Kindle editions.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Book review - Fucked Up Fairy Tales Volume 1, edited by Berti Walker

In this Rabelaisian romp of raunchiness, Ms Walker and her confederates Johnson and Rocksteady bring us a veritable feast of inappropriateness. These stories are definitely not to be your contribution to Kiddies' Reading Hour at your local library (not unless you want to be taken away in handcuffs).

The Editor's interesting introduction explains the intellectual basis for this book, and I must say it is one with which I cannot find fault. I was reminded of a story my own mother used to tell, in which the Wolf passed a night of consensual passion with Red Riding Hood, only tearing out her throat at the advent of the Woodcutter, when Red found it politically advisable to scream 'rape'. She claimed it was the original folk tale before the brothers Grimm cleaned it up, and who am I to say otherwise? These stories are like that.

A thoroughgoing hoot.

Fucked  Up Fairy Tales Volume 1 and 2 are available from AMAZON in Kindle and paperback editions.