Sunday, October 21, 2018

I've published two new books!

Short version - I've published two books on Amazon today. One a detective novel, set in 1900 London, and the other a collection of short stories (some of which first appeared on this very blog!). If you can't be bothered to read the long version, and just want to rush out and buy them then you can find them (dependent upon your location in the world) at one of the following links:

To Catch A Ghost

Mystery Train and Other Stories

But, if you don't read the long version, I should warn you that you'll miss out on a chance to get the short story collection for free...

And so, the long version...

About five years ago, I had an idea for a cool (and hopefully clever) detective novel set in the heart of Victorian London, and featuring a genius detective matching wits with an equally genius criminal. Armed with a clear idea of the story from beginning to end, I spent one summer holiday in a coffee shop in Breda (thank you Inspire Coffee!) writing several hours a day. And, by the end of the holiday, as well as having consumed about 73 gallons of latte, I had managed to write the thing.

I read it immediately and only saw flaws in it. But, I've heard this can happen and that one needs to put it aside for a few weeks and come back to it again. So I decided to do just that.

The only problem was, when I came back in a few weeks time, I'd lost it. Yes, seriously.

I'd been working on one computer, transferred it on a memory stick to another. Only to get rid of the first computer, have a problem with the second, and lose the memory stick.

The novel was gone.

I was upset. However, fortunately, I was way too busy to get too upset. I figured I'd write it again one day; but of course I never did...

And then, a few months ago, I stumbled across a pile of old hard drives. It turned out I'd had the wisdom to remove the hard drive from the first computer before I got rid of it. And there, sitting quite happily, was my novel.

So, I reread it. And couldn't understand why me of five years ago didn't like it. I really enjoyed it, especially because I could hardly even remember writing it - it was almost as if reading something by someone else! I therefore decided that I'd edit it, tweak a few bits here and there, and then make it available on Amazon.

And, while doing that, it occurred to me that maybe it would be a good idea to collate some of the stories that I've written over the years - here and on reddit - and so I started looking through them and found 37 that I liked enough to republish. So I did.

Now comes the curious part of whether anyone but me likes them! I guess we'll see..

Oh, and if you've got this far then - between 00.00 Pacific Standard Time and 23.59 Pacific Standard Time on Monday 22nd October - Mystery Train and Other Stories will be available free. I wanted it to let people who've enjoyed my stories over the years to have a chance to nab it without paying if they should so wish!

Hopefully a few of you will read both books. Hopefully a few of those few will even like them. I would be eternally grateful, if you do like them, if you could leave a review on Amazon.

So, that's the long version. Hope you like them!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Eurovision Drinking Game 2018 Rules

I realise that I am terribly, terribly late with this. Life and a bout of ill health got in the way of this year's update but - if you were concerned that there was to be no 2018 edition - have no fear, the rules for Lisbon 2018 can be found below.

As with all the previous years, some of the rules are slightly UK-centric so, if you intend to play this in another country, just ignore rules 1 and 26 and knock back two shots before you get started for good measure. Or, watch it on BBC and pretend to be British for the night so you to can feel our pain.

Finally, I need to issue my customary word of warning; this game is based upon the consumption of strong alcohol. I cannot, therefore, be held responsible for your health (or lack of) if you stringently follow the rules of my game and drink yourself into oblivion. Play this game entirely at your own risk…


1. A shot glass for every person playing (probably best to have a couple of spares in case people get overexcited).

2. The national drink of Portugal is, apparently, either Port or Ginjinha. Now, both of these are - by Eurovision drinking game standards, at least - pretty tame. So feel free to use them if you want to go for the Eurovision 2018 Lite edition. If, however, you want to play the full Eurovision 2018 Apocalypse edition, I would suggest availing yourself of something rather more potent such as vodka or tequila. The bottom line, pick something suitably alcoholic and to your tastes...

The rules are really very simple. You take a sip of your chosen spirit if:

1) Any time the British entry - SuRie - is mentioned.

2) The host(s) demonstrate that the secret of comedy is timing. By having none.

3) The host(s) attempts to sing.

4) The host(s) pretends to be surprised at something that's going on in what is clearly a vaguely-rehearsed piece of improvisation.

5) The host(s) loses track of their autocue or mess up their timing.

6) The video shown before an act manages to put you off the act before they've even taken the stage.

7) You are not entirely sure whether the singer is man who looks like a woman, or a woman who looks like a man.

8) The singer is barefoot.

9) A country is represented by a singer from somewhere else in the world. Drink an entire shot if a country is represented by what seems to be a random person (or persons) scooped up off the streets and then pushed out on stage.

10) The act involves people on stage banging large drums or objects acting as large drums.

11) An item of clothing is removed on stage. Drink an entire shot if it is removed by someone else.

12) The act is bald. Drink an entire shot if they are also female.

13) The act possesses a large moustache.

14) The act is dressed in leather. Drink an entire shot if they are dressed in leather and have a large moustache.

15) If you hear a language used other than that of the nation who is singing (for example, English words in a song by Ukraine). One sip per language. If in any doubt, just take a sip.

16) You recognise the song immediately as being a blatant rip off of a previous winner of Eurovision.

17) The song is an ode to world peace. Drink three shots immediately if there are any children on stage at any time during the song.

18) There are dancers on stage who, by their movements and lack of synchronicity, appear to have perhaps had three dance lessons as a child and have never heard the song before tonight. Take a shot if they're wearing an especially outlandish costume.

19) People are pretending to play instruments on stage. Drink an entire shot if they take a pretend solo.

20) Every time there's some kind of pyrotechnic on stage.

21) Every time someone employs the use of a wind machine.

22) If the act attempts to distract attention from the paucity of quality in their offering by getting some kind of celebrity on stage with them (for reference, see Germany in 2009 who employed the services of Dita von Teese to no effect whatsoever).

23) Every time there is some kind of camera trick (i.e. split screen, on-screen effects, projection, etc.).

24) Every time there is an awkward silence and/or miscommunication between the hosts and the people reading out the votes. Drink an entire shot if the votes get mixed up.

25) Every time one of the people reading out the results of a country’s voting attempts to secure their 15 seconds of fame by babbling on incoherently and generally delaying things and winding a few hundred million people up.

26) Every time it’s "Royaume-Uni? Nil point!". Drink a shot each time, at the end of a voting round, the UK is in last place overall.

27) Every time a country gives top marks to someone for geographic, political or ethnic reasons.

28) If there is any alcohol left once the show is finished and you’re physically capable of coordinating the movement of alcohol from the bottle to your mouth...take a sip!

As ever, have fun and please don't blame for the pain and misery you will have to endure...not to mention the hangover the day after!!