Quirky Tales Banner

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas from Quirky Tales!

Many of my books will be on free promotion on Christmas Day and Boxing Day for anyone finding an e-reader in their stocking.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

A New Christmas Story

Time for a Christmas theme for Quirky Tales now: a new story has joined the Christmas library on the Quirky Tales website. This one is called 'A Christmas Miracle' and tells the dramatic conclusion of one man's personal apocalypse. No zombies or anything unfestively grizzly, I promise. Just a good Christmas tale. I hope you enjoy it.


Acts of Kindness

We live in an age where it's all too easy to believe the worst of people, but sometimes you hear something that tests even the most determined cynicism. The Telegraph is running a story today of a student who found herself in a pickle after a night out. She had lost her bank card and had no money for a taxi home when a homeless man came to her aid, offering her his last £3 for her fare. She refused to take his money, but was so touched by his kindness that she set out on a mission to help him. She plans to live 'homeless' for twenty four hours and has asked people to sponsor her, suggesting £3, as that was what 'Robbie' had offered her in her hour of need.

One act of kindness has led to another, and it's made me wonder what I might be able to do today to be kind to a stranger. This could be a theme for the new year. Spread the kindness!


Wednesday 10 December 2014

New Story

There's a new story on the Quirky Tales website today. This one is called 'Changes' and is the story of a baffled young boy coping with a season of change.  I hope you enjoy it.


Tuesday 9 December 2014

Riding the Coasters

I stumbled across a story on the Telegraph's website today about a motorbike rider who rode his bike on a roller coaster. It's not the kind of headline you can ignore so I had a look and sure enough, Julien Dupont rode his motorbike along a fifty year old wooden roller coaster in Mexico. And not content with the steep climbs and drops, he added a couple of somersaults for effect.

I get wobbly riding my bicycle through a narrow gate. Some people are such show-offs.


Tuesday 2 December 2014

Santa Claus World Championship

The Santa Claus World Championship has been held in the Swiss resort of Samnaun. Among the many disciplines the competitors had to prove their skills in were tobogganing, skiing, climbing walls and, apparently for no other reason than it looks jolly silly, racing around in a giant hat collecting presents.

I'll probably stick to burning an advent candle and eating chocolate in preparation for the season, but it's good to know Santa takes his fitness regime so seriously.


Thursday 20 November 2014

Creators of Worlds

If you've been following this blog for any length of time you'll know I have a fascination for tree houses, miniatures, unusual sheds etc. The Mail today ran a piece on Lilliput Play Homes, creators of play houses that would answer any (big or small) child's dreams. The Mail points out, somewhat optimistically, that it's possible to buy a real home for less, but even so, these houses are so beautiful they're probably worth every penny.

So now all I need is a plot of land and a local planning committee with an open mind, oh, and a big bag of money.

I think I'll have the train station, the Victorian mansion, the old school house, the grocers, the market, the ...

Well, it is nearly Christmas.

Friday 14 November 2014

New Story and Free Promotion

There is another new story on the Quirky Tales website today. This is a response to a challenge I set, inspired by a recent encounter with a cold. The story is called 'Knutt the Conquerer' and is the tale of one man's battle against one of our oldest foes. I hope you enjoy it.

If you enjoy reading short stories, perhaps on your bus/ train ride to work, or during your lunch hour, you might like to download the QT Anthologies from Amazon. All three, Stories from the Web, Unseen Stories and Stories of Serendipity will be on free promotion on Sunday 16th November, the perfect time to add them to your Kindle library.

Happy reading.

Monday 10 November 2014

Good Behind the Headlines

It's funny how those who protest against 'government oppression' and 'inequality' usually succeed only in hurting those least able to withstand the assault. Such was the case in Belgium on the 6th November when rioters protested against austerity measures being brought in by the government.

This wasn't an item I'd particularly noticed until the story of Abdeslam Gharrafi and his poor car emerged. He was forced to watch in despair as rioters overturned and set fire to his Peugeot 106, being too scared, or rather, too sensible to challenge the thugs using his property for their 'protest'.

However, his plight touched the good people of Belgium and within four hours of opening, a crowdfunding page set up to get him a new car had raised over 12,000 euros, with donations still pouring in. (The fund currently stands at over 19,000 euros.)

It seems to me there's a lot more good folk in the world than bad. They just don't make the news so often.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Celebrating Paddington Bear

Ah, Paddington Bear, of deepest darkest Peru. To this day, whenever I see a coat with toggle fasteners I refer to it as a Paddington coat rather than a duffle. He was polite, baffled and adorable, and I loved him to bits. I even became a fan of marmalade sandwiches, his snack of choice.

And today he's achieving new prominence with a new audience, with a movie and a Paddington Trail around London. Perhaps the most telling aspect of his story is that his creator, Michael Bond, only began writing about him for his own amusement, he hadn't intended the stories to be published. So you could say he was an accidental star. Quite fitting really, given his character.

There are fifty Paddingtons around London to be tracked down. They will be auctioned at the end of the event and all money raised will be going to the NSPCC and its ChildLine service. The Visit London website has all the details, including a gallery of the Paddingtons.

I'm pretty sure I could make room for one in my garden ...


Thursday 30 October 2014

New Story - With an Autumnal Feel!

There's a new story on the QT website today. It comes, as so often, from a writing challenge, this one set by Richard. The prompt was 'The Storm', and the resulting story is called 'Outside Broadcast'. It tells the tale of a news crew who get into a bit of a pickle when reporting on stormy conditions. I hope you enjoy it.


Friday 24 October 2014


A poignant tribute to the Canadian soldier, Nathan Cirillo, who was shot dead as he stood guard at Ottowa's National War Memorial, has come in the form of a cartoon by Bruce MacKinnon. The cartoon shows the bronze figures stepping from the memorial to scoop up the fallen soldier. It's a powerful statement on so many levels.

Here is a link to the Royal British Legion's 2014 Poppy Appeal.

Saturday 18 October 2014

New Promotion and New Story

'Lucky Dip' will be on Countdown Promotion for a week starting tomorrow. 'Lucky Dip' is the story of Connie Henshall and her battles to hold her family and home together through the strains of redundancy. Her disastrous and at times comical attempts to find new employment test her confidence and her marriage. It's a light-hearted and hope-filled story of love, friendship, family, and the never-ending battle to keep an eleven year old daughter out of the make-up bag.

And if that isn't enough, there's a new story on the Quirky Tales website. 'Journeys in Dream State' tells of a young girl's travels through magical lands with a flying elephant for her companion. It's a touch surreal, as might be expected from the title. I hope you enjoy it.


Tuesday 14 October 2014

Boldre Wood Promotion

Just to remind you, 'Billy and the Carinthean War' is on Countdown Promotion all this week at the bargain price of 99p. 'Billy of Boldre Wood' is on free promotion for five days, starting today (14th October 2014), and 'Billy and the North Oakian Alliance' is on free promotion for three days starting today.

Happy reading.

Saturday 11 October 2014

Exciting News

WARNING: Here comes the big announcement:

The new look Quirky Tales Website is up and running!

I would have added streamers and fireworks but there are severe limits to my skills and such things far exceed them. (Besides which, I don't think Blogger allows such frivolity - I certainly haven't seen any buttons for streamers and fireworks anywhere on their site.)

And further excitement, I know, it's all happening here this weekend, Billy and the Carinthean War will be in Kindle's Countdown Promotions all next week, starting tomorrow, 12th October. The final book in the Boldre Wood Trilogy will be available throughout the promotion for the bargain price of 99 pence.

I'll leave you now to get acquainted with the stylish new QT. Happy Saturday everyone!

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Route Mapping

In recent times our fitness regime has had to change to accommodate a raft of annoying injuries. Running is not an option when you have a badly torn calf muscle, or a wobbly ankle, or damaged ligaments in your big toe. Bizarrely, only one of these injuries was incurred during a run. The others were accrued stumbling down the stairs or even, on one particularly notable occasion, tripping over what under closer examination turned out to be thin air.

But prior to our descent to crippled wreckary, we used to map our runs using a website that drew the route as a red line over a high resolution map. From this we could deduce how far we had run, roughly how many calories we had burned, and just how steep that long slog up the hill to the park is (incidentally, not nearly as steep as it felt running up it). The resulting routes normally appeared as seemingly random squiggles, or at best very badly drawn circles. I'm rather disappointed in them having seen the following story on the BBC's site:

David Taylor, a cyclist from Wiltshire, has used a similar app to map his routes, but instead of random squiggles or badly drawn circles, he creates actual pictures. He even managed to draw a bicycle by travelling a very convuluted journey around the New Forest. He had to cycle 187 miles to complete it though, so perhaps we'll leave him to it.

Besides, our new fitness regime revolves around the rowing machine in the garage. However hard we row, our routes now would just be one slightly embarrassed blob to the left of our house.


Tuesday 7 October 2014

New Website and New Genre

I'm happy to report that Minecrafting remains unchanged and as yet mortgages are not required for the building of small dwellings within its wondrous blocky world. I'm making the most of it while it lasts.

I hasten to point out I haven't spent all my time building new worlds, that's just my evening job. A lot of work time has been devoted to the new look website. We're nearly there, but there are some last minute bugs to catch and eliminate before the new look can be presented for public consumption. Watch this space for an announcement as soon as the work is completed.

I've also been doing a spot of writing. I'm currently working on a crime thriller/ mystery, which is a new genre for me but I'm enjoying delving into the dark and mirky side of human nature. The story, 'Schism', will be available later this year as a novella on Kindle. I'll keep you informed of its progress.


Tuesday 16 September 2014

Is This The End of Minecrafting?

In order to preserve my sanity in an age of grotty news I've reduced my news following to a quick scan of the headlines, just so I'm vaguely informed. It may seem cowardly, but it's better for my blood pressure. However, one headline struck with such force I had to investigate further:

'Microsoft buys Minecraft'

I'll admit, there was a reactionary spike in my blood pressure, but then I have an emotional investment here. I'm a creative Minecrafter on the Pocket Edition version, which I realise to anyone who doesn't Minecraft would make no less sense if I'd said it in Klingon, but the point is I'm a fan. I pick up my tablet at the end of the working day and I build. I build towns, I build weird islands in a clear blue sky, I build tree houses, I build complex tunnel structures, I build basically whatever takes my fancy. Creative Minecraft is Lego for grown-ups.

Screenshots of builds that pre-date the Microsoft buyout:

Now, as deep as my love is for Minecraft, so is my distrust of Microsoft. I have a Windows laptop I never bother starting now as it would probably take the better part of three hours to go through the switching on procedure. I exaggerate, but only slightly. I dread to think what they'll do to Minecraft. Maybe my imagination is running away with me, but I foresee a future where my build will be constantly interrupted by demands to 'update' or even, dare I say it, make in game purchases: you want another forty bricks? That'll be £4 please. My Minecraft towns and tree houses could be reduced to a few very small sheds.

I must point out that no such plans have been announced by Microsoft, but the forums are buzzing with prophecies of doom. Let's hope the chaps behind the Windows quickly offer reassurance to the Minecrafting community.

Good luck all you Minecrafters out there.


Monday 15 September 2014

New Story - The Next Adventure for The Gathering

If you enjoyed 'The Gathering', the super-hero adventure story in the latest of the QT Anthologies, you may like to take a look in the Quirky Tales library for the follow-up story, in which The Gathering are asked to return to Asquith's secret base to recover vital blueprints. Of course, things don't always go smoothly when you're dealing with an arch-villain's hideout inside a volcano. To read the story follow the link to 'The Gathering at the Volcano Vault'.

I hope you enjoy the story.

Saturday 6 September 2014

Free Book Weekend

Good morning and a happy weekend to you all. Don't forget, four of my books will be on free promotion today and tomorrow (6th and 7th September 2014).

If you want a taster of the Boldre Wood Trilogy, the first two books will be in the offer, or if you are looking for more grown up reading, books one and two of the QT Anthologies will be available.

Amazon works to a peculiar and random schedule known colloqueally in these parts as 'Amazon Non-Specific Time', so please check the promotion has started on the book or books you've chosen before you download.

Happy reading.

Thursday 4 September 2014

Positive Sci-fi = Positive World?

Are science fiction stories too bleak? asks the BBC. Considering some of the recent hit series, yes, they may well be. As a writer, when considering the future it's all too easy to picture a fractured human race, squabbling over dwindling resources or fighting vastly superior alien races. There's something wickedly delicious about such dystopian possibilities. I'm not sure why. Certainly, some of the future worlds I can imagine when sitting down to write are not worlds I would wish to inhabit, but they make for rich story telling.

Admittedly that's pretty gloomy, but now a group of science fiction writers have come together to produce a collection of stories that offer rather more optimistic and brighter prospective futures. They formed Project Hieroglyph, and the resulting book 'Hieroglyph' will be released on the 9th September.

Will the stories be just as engaging as the darker, more pessimistic sci-fi we've come to know and love? Will they truly lead humanity to a more prosperous and hope-filled future? Given the events covered in the news at the moment, I really hope so. Happier stories lead to a happier humanity? That does sound logical, captain.


The Sombreroed FBer

I relented, under some very good natured pressure from our daughter, and got to work making my Facebook page a more welcoming and inspiring place. I created it many moons ago and then did nothing with it, but with my trusty guide at my side it has now undergone some construction work.

I must apologise for the page photo, which is actually a rather obscured image of the cover of Billy and the Carinthean War. I know I must submit to the indignity of uploading a proper photo of myself, but I need to steel myself for that. Being notoriously camera-shy, I shall have to do something drastically confidence boosting, like getting a radical hair cut, or possibly just wearing a hat. I wonder, where could I borrow a sombrero?

Anyway, the page is there. It will be altered and shifted in the coming days and weeks, but I have at least made a start. A photo of me, quite possibly in a very large hat, will be appearing soon.


Wednesday 3 September 2014

Promotion Event

I haven't made it to Folkestone yet, though there doesn't seem to be a tremendous need to rush. Only five bars have been found so far according to the Folkestone Herald. The local DIY store has done alright out of it however, as sales of shovels, spades and, for some reason, sieves, have gone through the roof. Not sure you really need a sieve to pick out a gold bar, but then I confess to having little experience in these matters.

Anyway, in the spirit of the event, we thought we'd offer up some books for free, and you won't need a spade, shovel or a sieve to get them, just a Kindle reader and an Amazon account. Four books from my collection will be on free promotion on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th September 2014. And, unless you're standing on the beach when you download them, you won't even get sand in your socks.


Thursday 28 August 2014

Shovels at the Ready!

Right, that's it. I'm off to Folkestone with my bucket and spade. According to the BBC, German artist Michael Sailstorfer has hidden thirty 24-carat gold bars on the beach and is encouraging people to hunt for them at low tide, which is ... yikes, now! Given my need to circumnavigate the M25 to get there, I may be a little late. Could I possibly ask all you gold hunters down there to hang on a mo?

It would seem the generous German has said that finders will be keepers. I'm not entirely sure how that's art, but it sounds like fun. Good luck to any prospectors lucky enough to be at the Kent seaside today.


Thursday 21 August 2014

Downloads and Updates

Downloads of the third anthology, as well as the first two, were strong on Sunday's free promotion. I hope you all enjoy the stories.

I've been giving a lot of thought to the new image of the Quirky Tales website, as well as this blog. I still find myself drawn to the books, but it really is time for something simpler and cleaner. The new image will definitely feature the reader beneath the wonky tree that appears on the new covers of the anthologies, but how that will manifest is still something of a mystery.

Over the coming weeks, we'll be experimenting with some of the new ideas, so don't be alarmed if the background changes a few times and books, readers and wonky trees come and go. The library will be available for readers at all times. If you feel moved to offer feedback, good or bad, I shall be very happy to consider it.


Sunday 17 August 2014

'Stories of Serendipity' Free Promotion

Don't forget to get your copy of the third anthology, 'Stories of Serendipity', today, Sunday 17th August, while it's on free promotion. The first and second anthologies are also on promotion for anyone who has not already downloaded them.

Happy reading.

Thursday 14 August 2014

QT3 Stories of Serendipity

It is my happy duty to announce the publication of the third QT Anthology! 'Stories of Serendipity' is available now on Kindle. All the anthologies will be on free promotion on Sunday 17th August 2014. I'm having a slight issue with changing the cover of Book One. It should be resolved by the end of today, so hopefully soon all three books will be sporting the new look.

Updates to the blog and website will follow when I can get my head around the technicalities!

Don't forget, all three anthologies will be free this Sunday, 17th August 2014.

Happy reading.

Monday 4 August 2014

High Speed Chase

The LAPD are to be commended today for their heroic capture of a dangerous criminal in a high speed chase through the streets of Alhambra. A spokesperson said the miscreant tried to evade them but the LAPD officers are 'pretty fast'. The offender has been identified as Clark the tortoise, and has a reported top speed of 1 mph. In case you're worried, Clark was spared the indignity of a prison cell and has been returned to his family.

Friday 1 August 2014

Creating a New Look

I have been mulling a change for some time. I'm not about to dye my hair green or have a dragon tattooed across my back (I confess, at dull moments I have imagined such things, don't tell Mum!), but I do think it's time for an update of QT. As much as I love my books logo, it's possible they've done their job and deserve a peaceful retirement to a quiet shelf where they can reflect upon their heady days in the spotlight.

With QT3 nearing completion and work underway on the graphics for the book, it seems like a good time to get to work on a new image. It's a little scary, but it's time for something brighter. With that in mind, we've been working on new cover designs for the QT Anthology series. Details aren't finalised yet, but the new design is bolder and simpler, and perhaps a tad whimsical:

The new QT design, featuring a reader lazing beneath a wonky tree on a hill

There's a lot more work ahead before the new design can be rolled out across the range, not least because I have no idea how to incorporate an entire tree into the blog and website! But updated covers for QT1 and QT2 should coincide with the launch of QT3, whose title, as you might see from the picture, is 'Stories of Serendipity'.

The final edit of the latest collection is underway, so the launch of the third book should be fairly soon. Watch this space for details.


Tuesday 29 July 2014


The news is awful. Fighting, disease, fraud, nuclear bombs, banks misbehaving, politicians misbehaving, escalating cost of living, doom, doom, doom. It's hard to stay cheerful.

Isn't it?

Well, the residents of Diana Isaac Retirement Village in Christchurch New Zealand don't seem to think so. They and the staff got together to create a tribute of Pharrell William's 'Happy'. Watch that and tell me you didn't smile.


Tuesday 15 July 2014

Birthday Wishes

It's normal for children to ask for particular toys, games, gadgets etc. for their birthdays and Christmas, but one girl took a more ambitious approach: she wanted to be a princess. Not content with purchasing a pink floaty gown and plastic tiara from the toy store, her dad set out to find a land he could conquer and claim as his own, in order to truly fulfil his daughter's request.

What's more, he thinks he's done it. He found an area of Africa that isn't owned by any country, travelled there, and stuck his flag in the ground in the time honoured fashion of invasion and conquest.

It's unlikely his claim will be accepted by the UN, and probably even more unlikely that his neighbours, Sudan and Egypt will honour it, but 'Princess' Emily has ordered that the land should become a centre of agriculture, which I think suggests she's a princess whose heart is in the right place even if her land isn't.

So, if you're wondering where to go on your hols, perhaps you could try the new Kingdom of North Sudan, bearing in mind that it's quite a trek, the country isn't actually recognised, and you'll likely be greeted by a young princess handing you a hoe and a spade.


disclaimer: this blog does not advocate travel to lands not recognised by international law. You are of course entirely free to make up your own land, which would have the advantage of not requiring many hours of plane/ car/ and arduous foot travel, as well as not needing an expensive military defence capability. Travel to imaginary lands should not require travel insurance, though you are advised to make sure you've had all your shots, and have cleaned your bedroom and done all your homework before embarkation.

Saturday 12 July 2014

Promotion Reminder

Just to remind you: all the books in my collection are available free to download from Amazon today, Saturday 12th July 2014.

I hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Free Books!

There's an article on the BBC website this morning that says the average writer earns £11,000 per annum. It's a pretty low income that's largely hidden in the glare of the big earners, but it does suggest we need to consider how much we value books and their creators. I'm terribly English when it comes to discussing money, but let's just say I'm still at the point of dreaming of earning even the average writer's income.

I confess, I'm guilty of trawling the free listings on Amazon, looking for an otherwise unseen gem that's being given away, though I do pay for Kindle books that catch my eye. It's a problem. I wouldn't expect free coffee, which takes seconds to create, yet I want free books which take months if not years to create. As a writer, I'm appalled that I seem to value baristas more than I do my fellow scribes.

I'll go back to age-old mantra: I write because I love to write, not because I expect to earn my fortune doing it.

With that in mind, my entire collection will be in the free listings on Amazon on Saturday 12th July 2014. Please download and enjoy them. Feedback and ratings would be a huge help, if you could spare a few minutes. And as ever, thanks to all my lovely readers for your support.


Monday 7 July 2014

Back to Work

Hello! I'm back! I thought I'd start my week with my annual 'what the heck was my login' quest. Startlingly, this year I remembered it with barely a pause. I'm rather depressed by that, clearly I didn't take a long enough holiday.

Anyway, it's back to work now. The stories for the third anthology are written and have undergone their first edit. They just have another three/ four edits to go through before they are subjected to their next major operation: conversion for Kindle, followed by further, hopefully minor, editing. My stories go through a lot before they're released for general consumption.

I hope you'll forgive just a quick personal note: congratulations to our gorgeous daughter who is now a Master Geologist. The amount of hard work that she has put in has been astonishing, but she's done it! Congrats, Well Done, Bravo and all that, with a big helping of love and best wishes.


Tuesday 10 June 2014

New Promotion of The Boldre Wood Trilogy

The Boldre Wood Trilogy will be on free promotion this Saturday, 14th June 2014. If you haven't downloaded the full trilogy yet, this Saturday is your chance to get it free of charge.

The collection of stories for the third anthology is almost complete. Then the editing begins. Picture me once again traipsing around the house with Kindle in hand, reading each story aloud complete, of course, with actions. I dread someone capturing it on camera.

Happy reading.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Review News

'Billy and the Carinthean War' has its first review, from a self-confessed 73 year old kid! Well, I did say the story would appeal to all ages. Thank you so much for your kind words. And if the people at Walt Disney feel like taking heed, I shall be available at a moment's notice to sign contracts!


Monday 2 June 2014

Inspirational Places

I received an email from Amazon this morning inviting me to rate 'Billy and the Carinthean War'. As tempting as it is to give it five stars, I shall resist. Not least because I suspect they might realise it's me and get rather cross about an author so obviously boosting their own rating.

I thought it might be a good idea to offer an insight into how these stories come into being:

Many of my stories come from inspirational places. The Boldre Wood Trilogy is a case in point: Billy's story was inspired by childhood trips to the New Forest. The name Boldre actually comes from the area, though the story is not set there. I remember being fascinated by the idea of a forest made up of boulders - I was young, I didn't pay attention to the spelling back then. The forest of boulders idea was ditched as unworkable, but the name stuck.

A recent foray to the National Trust property, Packwood House, saw us climbing the spiral path to the yew tree on the Mount. It was one of those surprise discoveries. We saw the array of clipped yew trees and decided to explore and before we knew what was happening we were climbing up and up until we found ourselves at the top of the Mount beneath the dome of a very large, and presumably very old, yew. It had the feel of an Enid Blyton adventure, I was half expecting to emerge in some mystical, magical new world. It's not hard to see how such places could inspire fairy tales.

Watch this space, perhaps there'll be a new adventure story emerging shortly. For now, work continues on the third anthology.


Thursday 29 May 2014

New Story

I'm a little lost now that Billy has left my computer and made his way to the virtual bookshelf. Work continues on the third anthology, but I have a constant sense of something missing, a deep seated feeling that I've mislaid something.

Never mind. The writing continues. Speaking of which, there is a new story on the QT website today, inspired by a challenge set by Richard. This one is called 'Click' and is the story of a hard-up teacher taking on an evening class to help older people improve their computer skills. Hope you enjoy it.


Tuesday 20 May 2014

Billy 3 Launch Success

This weekend's promotion for the Boldre Wood Trilogy went very well with 'Billy and the Carinthean War' seeing especially strong downloads. I hope you all enjoy the concluding part of the story. Please feel free to contact me either through this blog or through the Quirky Tales website if you have any comments or queries, and of course feedback on Kindle is always very welcome.

I am now working on two long stories for the third QT Anthology, which should put me close to completing the latest collection. Updates on that to follow.

Happy reading.


Saturday 17 May 2014

Free Promotion Starts Today!

The Boldre Wood Trilogy is available to download free today, 17th May 2014! The latest addition, 'Billy and the Carinthean War' will also be free tomorrow, 18th May 2014!

Click the links in this post, or the books to the right to reach their Kindle pages. Happy reading!


Thursday 15 May 2014

Book Promotion

It's nearly time for the Boldre Wood promotion! Don't forget to download your copy of 'Billy and the Carinthean War', available on free promotional offer on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th May 2014.

And if you don't already have your copies of books one and two, they'll be on offer on Saturday 17th May 2014.

Work on the third anthology in the QT collection continues apace. It will be the usual assortment of humour, drama and intrigue, some short, some long.

Updates to follow.


Monday 12 May 2014

The Boldre Wood Trilogy Promotion

It's all happening in Boldre Wood! Billy's 1 and 2 have just been updated, Billy 3 has just launched, and they will all be on free promotion to celebrate. 'Billy of Boldre Wood' and 'Billy and the North Oakian Alliance' will be on offer on Saturday 17th May 2014. 'Billy and the Carinthean War' will have a two day launch promotion on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th May 2014.

The Boldre Wood Trilogy is primarily aimed at young readers between the ages of ten and twelve, but their appeal extends to anyone who enjoys a dramatic plot in a beautiful setting. The story is about a society of homunculi living in an ancient forest whose world is suddenly threatened by the arrival of human sailors. There's drama, humour and heartbreak.

So if you haven't taken a look at them so far, why not download the trilogy this weekend and take a stroll through Boldre Wood. I hope you like it there.

I'll post reminders closer to the weekend.


Saturday 10 May 2014

Billy 3 Available Now!

'Billy and the Carinthean War' is now available to purchase for Kindle. I'm planning a promotion for the near future. Watch this space for updates.


Billy and the Carinthean War: Book Three of the Boldre Wood Trilogy

Billy 3 is on the launch pad. Countdown has commenced. He will be fired into Kindle space very shortly!

The people of Boldre Wood wait for the day they know will come, the day they must fight the giant Carintheans. When word arrives through the Barlowian spy network that the Carintheans have set up a permanent camp and are travelling ever deeper into the Wood, the united armies gather.

The odds are impossible. The Carintheans are huge, with fearsome weapons. How can the tiny people of Boldre Wood hope to defend their homes against this monstrous invader?

I'll post as soon as the book is available on Kindle.


Wednesday 7 May 2014


Energy levels low. Voice failing. Legs weakening. So. Very. Tired. Okay, I exaggerate. It's not that bad, but I am finding that reading 'Billy and The Carinthean War' aloud from start to finish to be more of a physical challenge than anticipated. It is, however, an excellent way to squirrel out any last errors that have squeaked through the multiple stages of editing.

If I need inspiration to keep me going, I probably need look no further than a remarkable Canadian lady, who is not only active at 95 years of age, but is competing athletically and setting world records. What an amazing lady. I especially liked the giggle and sneaky kiss at the end of the BBC's video after her dashing helper rushes in to assist when her running bib gets tangled.

I wonder if there's a world record for reading a 156 page novel out loud whilst pacing around ones house ...

Nearly there. Billy 3 is on his way to the launch pad. Countdown will commence as soon as I'm absolutely happy all his words are in the right place.


Friday 2 May 2014

Performing Billy

Anyone walking past our house today would have been treated to the spectacle of me pacing back and forth reading 'Billy and the Carinthean War' out loud, complete with actions, accents and full facial expressions. I hadn't set out today with the intention of acting out Billy 3, it resulted from my latest read through of the manuscript. However, it has proven an effective method of spotting those annoying lingering mistakes and typos. You tend to stumble when a word is missing or misspelt when you read out loud.

I've made good progress. The manuscript is nearly ready. I've had to take a brief rest to allow my voice a chance to recover - being a writer doesn't really equip one with the vocal gymnastics required to do a full days performance! Hopefully the book will be cleared and ready for take-off by the end of next week.

Updates to follow. Have a great weekend.


Wednesday 23 April 2014

I'd Rather Be ....

I'd spent the morning prevaricating, well, ironing, writing music, cleaning the kitchen floor, anything rather than get on with editing. I hate editing and find I'm so easily distracted by anything, evidenced surely by the fact that I would rather clean the kitchen floor than sit down and get on with it. But I received a slap on the wrist in the form of a National Geographic article (found via a convoluted trawl of the internet, and ultimately the Mail's site, when I should have been working).

The article has some astonishing photographs and video of the Bangladeshi ship breakers yards. Make time, if you will, to watch the video. You'll never feel the need to bemoan your lot again. Among the photographs is an image of some boys working in the yards who claim to be 14. They look to be no older than 8 or 9, some are possibly younger. Yet they are readily employed by the yards for their cheap labour and size - small bodies can squeeze into tight spaces. It's an awful thought, and one that we might have hoped harked back to a less enlightened age. They work among the steel, the asbestos, the gas, the explosions, all to ensure the yards' huge profits. I'll leave you to your own conclusions there.

Anyway, the next time you hear me whinging on about editing, feel free to point out I could be working as a shipbreaker in Bangladesh. I'll go and get on with it right now. No more moaning, or time-wasting I promise. Billy 3 has waited long enough.


Thursday 17 April 2014

Billy and the Carinthean War

I thought it was probably about time I offered an update on the progress of 'Billy and the Carinthean War'. Edits continue - it's a long process, but important, so it can't be rushed. I'm happy to say the artwork for the cover is now, more or less, ready:

Cover artwork for Book Three of the Boldre Wood Trilogy

There's still more artwork for the 'inside' of the book to do, but that shouldn't take much longer. So, Billy Three is getting very close to launch.

If you haven't read Books One and Two, they are on free promotion on Amazon for the rest of today, 17th April 2014, as is the rest of my collection.


Wednesday 16 April 2014

GO! Get Your Free Books!

Amazon Time now agrees it's the 16th April! My books are now free to download until Amazon Time says the 17th April has ended!

Happy reading.


Free Promotion

Wait for it! The free promotion hasn't quite started yet. We're operating on Amazon time here, and wherever that is, it's obviously not quite the 16th April yet.

I'll post a GO! as soon as Amazon time catches up with us!


Tuesday 15 April 2014

Free Kindle Books Promotion

As promised, a new promotion has been arranged. My books will be available free on Amazon for two days starting tomorrow, 16th April 2014 and finishing the next day, 17th April 2014.

Download away! Tell your friends to download away! Tell your friends' friends to download away!



Wednesday 9 April 2014

J.K.Rowling and the New World of Writing

A writer has criticised J.K.Rowling for continuing to write, suggesting that in doing so, she is taking shelf space from aspiring authors.

I have so much to thank J.K.Rowling for. Through her most famous creation, Harry Potter, she cleared the way for other writers to write new, exciting and thought-provoking stories for the Young Adult market. She showed that writing for young readers can, and should, bridge the gap between fairy tales and adult fiction. Thanks to her, I found the courage to bring the Boldre Wood Trilogy to publication.

Her critic moans about her move into the adult fiction market, saying she should stick to writing children's books (Stick with children's books? They're some of the best books around!). In fact, J.K.Rowling wanted to write her adult fiction under a pen name as she wanted to succeed, not because of her name, but rather because of her writing. Sadly for her, she was found out before she could properly prove her skill as a writer of adult fiction. At least she tried to 'give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe', as her critic requests.

It's a tough business to break into, and aspiring writers do, understandably, sometimes feel envious of those whose work receives huge amounts of publicity and plaudits, but such jealousy should never be expressed beyond the occasional private rant after a long day editing! To lay the blame for ones own lack of success at the door of someone who has expanded the reading world so much is extraordinary. Still, as one comment observes, this particular writer has now earned herself, and her books, considerable free publicity.


Friday 4 April 2014

It's Not All Fun Being a Writer!

Aaaagh! I hate editing. Sorry for shouting, but on the whole, I'm much happier when writing. Still, progress has been good and I'm happy with how the book is shaping up. I just wish I could wave a wand and all the boring stuff was done.

Thankfully I had a brief respite yesterday when I wrote a short story in answer to a challenge set by Richard. This one was 'Loch Ness Monster'. The resulting story was rather unexpected, but he who fixes the computer has asked me to set it aside for the the third QT Anthology - as yet unnamed - so it will be a little while before it's available for public consumption.

A new promotion for my collected works will be set up shortly. Further updates on that to follow. In the meantime, have a great weekend.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Progress Report March 2014

The first rewrite of 'Billy and the Carinthean War' is complete. I've now begun a read-through to check for any glaring errors and to see where colour needs to be added. Then it's on to editing and preparation of graphics. It's a strange feeling, as I know I'm drawing towards the end of my time with Billy. I'm really going to miss him.

Once the Boldre Wood Trilogy is completed I shall return to work on the third QT Anthology. I have a good number of stories for it already, but I hope to add many more. This being the third in the series, I feel a need to make it even bigger and better than its predecessors.

After that, I don't know! There are always more stories to be written, but for now my head is too full of Billy to concentrate on them. I'll let you know my plans when I know what they are!

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Piscine Precipitation

The UK has experienced some pretty unusual weather these last few months and, just as it looks like we might be through the worst of it, it's now started raining fish. Yes, fish. Alright, it was only one fish, and it was most likely dropped by a clumsy seagull, but even so, a fish dropped out of the sky.

That's it, I'm taking my umbrella out whatever the weather. Just imagine: 'How was your day, dear?' 'Well dear, I was walking along the road when a haddock landed on my head. Guess what's for tea.'

Tuesday 4 March 2014

New Stories

There are two new stories on the QT website today, and it's all thanks to Richard. In an attempt to keep our ideas flowing, we've been setting each other writing challenges, of which his latest was 'Alien'. Perhaps thanks to the fact that I just finished the Astrobiology course run by the University of Edinburgh on Coursera, it really seemed to trigger something.

One's a bit daft, the other is more sober. The daft one is 'Universal Programming' and poses the suggestion that TV could actually save mankind. The sober one is 'One of a Kind' and is a teacher's account of an unusual pupil.

I hope you enjoy them, and thanks again to Richard.

Monday 3 March 2014

Puzzle Games

I use my Samsung tablet for various things in day to day life. I plan artwork on it, I tap out story ideas on it, and once the days work is done, I play games on it. I'm not fond of popping bubbles, or matching gems, though I can be tempted to lengthy Sudoku or Mahjong sessions, but I've spent many hours trawling the Google Play Store for something to really get my teeth into.

I've long had a thing for mystery/ puzzle games, a penchant that grew from the excellent Myst series for the PC, which were set in mystical lands navigated by means of solving puzzles and problems. It's a genre like no other for capturing the imagination, but sadly such games take a lot of developing and many of the big games companies have steered away from them.

But then I stumbled across Fireproof Games during one of my desperate hunts. Fireproof have two games out, 'The Room' and 'The Room Two' which hark back to a time when games were built to enchant, to confound, to challenge. The graphics are astounding, the controls simple and intuitive, and the puzzles tricky enough to entertain without being so frustrating you're tempted to throw your tablet out of the window.

I'm checking their website daily for any sign of 'The Room Three' because, quite frankly, I need another quality puzzle game. Urgently.

Monday 24 February 2014

Billy's Travels

The latest free promotion of my whole collection is going brilliantly. All the books have featured highly in the top 100 for their genres, which is great news as it means they'll reach even more readers. It's strange to think that Billy is now being downloaded across the world! I think he'd be pretty excited about that - he does love an adventure!

Lucky Dip downloads have been the strongest so far with Billy a close second, but the QT Anthologies have seen steady interest too. The third QT Anthology is my next project after Billy 3 is finished, so the collection is set to grow.

Welcome to all my new readers. I hope you like what you find and thank you for your support.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Free Promotion Reminder

The free promotion on my whole collection has begun on Amazon! All my books are free to download today, 23rd February and tomorrow, 24th February.

If you haven't already downloaded the books or you know someone who might enjoy them, head over to my page and get them now!

Have a great weekend.

Friday 21 February 2014

More Onions

For all those of an emotional disposition, I apologise in advance for highlighting this particular story on the Mail's website. But continuing the theme of people being much nicer than a normally cynical press would have us believe, this is about an experiment set up in Oslo.

The experiment was to see how many people would help a shivering boy waiting for a bus. The boy had no coat and his backstory was that someone had stolen it. The resulting video shows people divesting themselves of their own coats, scarves and gloves in order to help the boy, who said of the experiment that of the many people who came up to him but who didn't appear on the video, only three failed to offer help. What lovely people the Norwegians are.

The video is being used as a campaign by SOS Children's Village, a charity gathering donations so they can send coats and blankets to Syrian children caught up in the conflict.

I don't know about you, but I feel a possibly irrational urge to dash outside and offer a jacketless person my coat.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Promotion and Progress Report

As promised, I have now set up a new free promotion for all my books. Well, almost. For some reason I can't seem to schedule 'Billy and North Oakian Alliance' at the moment, but I have every confidence that will soon be rectified (i.e. when he who fixes the computer comes along and identifies whatever stupid thing I did this time!). So, the full collection will be available free on Sunday February 23rd and Monday 24th February.

I'll issue reminders nearer the time, so if you've missed any of the books, look out for the promotion!

Meanwhile, back at my computer, 'Billy and the Carinthean War' continues to develop well. I'm about halfway through the first rewrite, which I'm using to tighten the plot, trim down the narrative and resolve any technical issues. This will be followed by another rewrite to 'add colour', making sure there's enough humour to carry the story through the darker episodes, giving the many new characters sufficient identity to allow the reader to understand them, and generally making sure the atmosphere is captured. Following that, I need to work on the cover design, arrange read throughs and edits, and prepare the book for publishing. So, a bit of work to do yet!

It's a long process, and I appreciate I've taken an extraordinary amount of time just completing a first draft, but Billy's story is important to me, and I want to make sure I do him justice. Thank you for being patient, he's on his way now though!

Don't forget the promotion dates: Feb 23rd and 24th.

Update 20th Feb: 'Billy and North Oakian Alliance' has now been added to the Feb 23rd and 24th free promotion! The daft thing I'd done was not realise the book was at the end of a promotional period, so new promotions couldn't be set until today.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Random Act of Kindness

I know I said I was going to organise a promotion. I haven't forgotten, I've just been busy. I'll do it this week, I promise. But in the meantime, at a time when the news is filled with politicians being beastly towards older people, or poor people, or disabled people, or basically anyone who isn't their kind of people, here's something to restore your faith in humanity:

A refuse collector in California made one young boy's day by presenting him with a gift. Apparently the little boy absolutely loves garbage collection day and waits outside to see the truck arrive. One of the men operating the machine has come to know him and watches out for him, and decided to give him a toy version of the truck. The video is very touching. As one commenter said: 'Damn these onions'

I have fond memories of my own littlun' waiting at the window on 'bin day'. There was one particular bin man who always had a cheery wave and a big smile for her and it always made her day. Oh, damn and blast these onions!

Book promotion news will appear shortly.

Monday 10 February 2014

Nesting Time

It's been a while since I've checked in, my apologies. The rewrite of Billy 3 has been dominating my time, along with the good use I've been making of the excellent 'Coursera' to learn all those things I wish I'd learned in school!

Anyway, the new week began with great excitement. No, not a premium bond win, we're still waiting for that, this involves our feathered friends. One of the first chores of our day is feeding the birds that visit our tiny garden. Each morning a horde of sparrows line up along the hedge, tapping their feet and shouting their heads off, waiting while we put out seeds, fat cakes, grapes and, the latest addition, grated cheese. Our resident blackbird is less patient and tends to hop about in the shrubbery, darting out when he thinks we're not looking. But the two robins are the boldest. They actually come up to the food pot and help themselves if we're taking too long. They also sit on the kitchen windowsill and stare at us when the food runs out later in the day. It's pretty unnerving being stared at by a hungry robin, so they don't normally have to wait long before one of us opens the window and hands them some seed.

So this morning it was no surprise to see them out there hopping around our feet while we restocked the feeders. The excitement came when we realised they were collecting leaves and twigs and carrying them into our small log store. They've clearly decided that the service in these parts is pretty good and that our minuscule patch of England is the perfect spot to raise a family.  Along with the blue-tit who over-winters in the Alpine cow bell hanging outside the door, our tiny patch of England is rapidly turning into a sanctuary. The only trouble is, we can't burn any logs for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, back to the rewrite and coursera. I'm planning another promotion shortly for all my books, so watch this space for details, and robin updates!

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Cool Criminal

According to the BBC, the latest distributor of internet spam uncovered by security firm Proofpoint was ... a fridge. No, that wasn't a typo. I didn't mean to type 'henchman from Sicily', or 'spotty teenager from Alabama', or 'Mr Big of Leeds' (no offence to Sicily, Alabama or Leeds - I'm sure there are no such miscreant inhabitants in your fair homes, but it's early and they were the first places that came to mind).

Now, call me old-fashioned, but my fridge is there to keep our milk cold. It has one cable, and that carries the electricity to keep the whole thing running. It doesn't have internet access. I don't want my kitchen appliances surfing the web. But it would seem that smart tech is starting to appear in even the most basic of homewares, and a lot of it hasn't been configured with security in mind.

So, if the doorbell rings and the internet police burst in shouting and hollering and waving warrants under your nose, try not to panic. They'll be there to arrest your sofa. Or your bath. Or possibly your toothbrush. And don't feel too sad as the offending item is carted off to jail. It was clearly a wrong-un to start with.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

IT Woes

An update on the web developer's software issue:

It's more complicated than feared. However, he who fixes the computer will overcome our current software issues, possibly through the purchase of an alternate package. This unfortunate circumstance may yet be avoided, as a search of various forums revealed that others are having similar problems. It's just possible that teams of programmers in a spartan office somewhere are beavering away on a solution as I write. I shall follow the standard advice in such situations and refrain from holding my breath. With my expert on hand, updates to the QT website are still possible, albeit via a route of such fiendish complexity that I shan't be trusted to undertake it myself.

Marvellous stuff this modern technology, isn't it?

Tuesday 14 January 2014

New Story

The web developers' software we use for managing our websites has recently been updated. They've improved it, so now it doesn't work. Well, it sort of works, but it doesn't actually like uploading data to the web, which is awkward. Even he who fixes the computer is stumped and is stomping around the house muttering between bouts of frantic clicking and typing. I have faith. He always works it out.

Anyway, this lengthy preamble is my convoluted way of announcing the arrival of a new story on the QT website (after a prolonged battle with the software). Inspired by a challenge set by Richard, this one is called Noah's Ark and tells the story behind the Ark of Kingston Green.

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Lost in the Post?

Author and journalist Harry Mount recently tested the method of posting letters developed by P.G.Wodehouse whilst living in Cheltenham. Not wanting to traipse down four flights of stairs when he wanted to post a letter, the Jeeves and Wooster creator instead opened a window and threw his stamped letters down to the street. The good people of Cheltenham could then be relied upon to pick them up and carry them to the nearest postbox. Lazy, but effective.

So, Harry Mount left stamped letters in various places around the country to see if people are still as honest and courteous, and discovered that the West Country folk can still be relied upon to rescue 'lost' letters, whilst those closer to the great metropolis were more likely to walk on by.

I have in the past rescued a 'lost' letter and I would do it again, but these days I might spend a bit of time afterwards wondering if I'd done the right thing. After all, what if the sender had written an angry note in the heat of the moment and had then had a change of heart and decided not to post it? Perhaps the letter within, far from being a welcome contact with an old acquaintance, was hate mail, or something even worse?

Drat. Now I've confused myself. To post or not to post? Why do I always overthink these things? Curses! Nope, I'll take my cue from my adopted West Country home. I'll post your lost letters for you. If you've changed your mind about sending them then you shouldn't leave them lying in the street!

Friday 3 January 2014

Dream Workings?

Dreams have puzzled and inspired people throughout the ages, and yet nobody truly knows what they are, other than the brain sorting through the day's events. There have been times when the nocturnal administrations of my grey matter have inspired a story, it's true. Indeed, there have been occasions when everyone has been forced to stand aside as I've dashed from my bed to the computer to rattle off whatever idea the grey cells have formulated during their nightly sortings. But it doesn't happen often. Most of the time, my dreamworld is a lurid and peculiar place that I'm quite glad to escape in the morning. Last night's efforts are a case in point:

Following the welcome return of the dark and somewhat bewildering 'Silent Witness' we felt the need for something lighter-hearted to restore our emotional equilibrium. A quick search through our Yuletide recordings led to us watching 'Toy Story 3'. After that we read our books for a while before turning in. I'm reading 'Final Epidemic' by Earl Merkel. Currently the hero 'Beck Casey' is learning more than he wanted to know about Russian and American spies. Now, you may be wondering why I'm telling you all this, but the combination of the three goes some way to explaining why my dreams last night largely featured murderous, dark and nefarious characters, presided over by Toy Story hero, Woody, who I came to believe was a spy, probably for the US though I was unable to confirm that. It was, frankly, disturbing and clearly demonstrates the unreliability of my dream state for inspiring my writing. After all, I can't see Pixar being keen on seeing their eternal good guy, Woody, as a sneaky secret agent.

Or maybe they would?

Anyway, the writing shall resume as normal within the next few days without reliance upon dreams of any nature. I'm very close to the conclusion of Billy 3 now, although the rewriting, editing and proofing will consume the next few months. The final chapter of Billy's story is now, at last, nearly writ!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.