The Wrap Around Cover

Underdog Anthology 6, ‘The Gallows Stone’, is just about ready for loading. Interiors for print and eBook versions are finished. I now have to do the hardest part of all, a roughly 100-word summary of the book. Everything else is on hold while I do this, including my new toy which arrived today (it’s a little laser engraver, I dare not take it out of the packaging until the book is completed).

This is going to be my first attempt at a wrap-around one piece cover. It has advantages – the printing process sometimes leaves a bit of spine on the front or back covers and vice versa. With a whole image that won’t matter. I can also have different fonts and different coloured texts on the spine which is not an option the ‘traditional’ way.

It has disadvantages. To get  the spine text lined up properly, I have to get the image size exactly right. There will be some drift in printing, I have noticed it already, but that text has to stay firmly on the spine. This is not as easy as the printer sites would have you believe.

Soon, CreateSpace will be no more. Everything going on to Amazon will go through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) including print books. Okay, that’s not a bad idea, it will make loading easier and quicker but… KDP’s cover creator is not compatible with the one CreateSpace used. I don’t yet know how serious this is but in a worst case scenario, I might have to redo the cover of every book in the Leg Iron Books catalogue.

I didn’t use their formatted covers, I loaded images that either I or the authors had produced. So it might not be a problem at all unless they have different cutoff points for cover text. That remains to be seen. If I do have to redo the covers I’d like to go for one piece wraparounds rather than separate front, back and spine images. Therefore I need the practice.

So, for Underdog Anthology 6, I have downloaded a template for a 130-page book (well, they have templates for 120 and 140 pages, so I will probably have to resize) and have begun the cover preparation. It’s a learning curve and I’d rather do it on an anthology where the authors get paid regardless of outcome than on a novel/story collection where the author is waiting for royalties. If I mess this up I’m the only one who loses out.

Anyway, the Gallows Stone cover has an image of, potentially, a real Gallows Stone that is built into the house I live in. I don’t know exactly where it is but I know which part of the house it’s in – the part added in the 1830s. And I now know where that is. It’s the part in the cover image. I can’t be sure of which of the stones are part of the original gallows stone but that’s part of the fun.

Well anyway. I have to write about 100 words, every one of which will be torn with fiery tongs from my bleeding soul because every one of them has to be exactly right. It was a damn sight easier to write the stories in the book. It’s going to take hours and whisky.

In the meantime, here’s the cover without the back cover words. I’m thinking graffiti style.

Coming together and falling apart

The Halloween anthology is ready to go. I’m just waiting for one author’s response to edits and it’ll load up. I’ll be glad to take a rest after this one – my sleeping pattern is now all over the place and I’m losing track of what day it is!

I’d like to get this one out before Theresa May gets kicked out. There’s a reason, and it has to do with the traditional corrupted poem at the end.

It has come to light that when CreateSpace merge with Kindle (Kindle will them make all the print and Kindle versions, which will save a bit of time), the CreateSpace cover creator is not compatible with the Kindle cover creator for print books. Since I load up cover images rather than use their templates, that might not be a problem – but it might mean I have to re-do all the covers. If I do, I’ll make them all one-piece covers.

Anyway, the book is coming together. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is falling apart.

Brexit is a shambles. Theresa May seems determined to put the Conservative party on a level with the Church of the Militant Elvis, aided by ‘Lurch’ Hammond, who intends to have a Brown Gorgon-style raid on pension funds and raise more taxes.  That’s right, Deep Socialism from what was once regarded as a ‘Conservative’ party. This is to pay for extra nannying from the NHS and their Public Health Stasi who are now at the stage of limiting the size of pizza. This is not parody. Parody is long dead now. If ‘Spitting Image’ tried to make a comeback they simply could not do it.

With the Tories now firmly on the Left, what of the original Left? Have they welcomed these totalitarian fuckwits into their fold? Not a bit of it. The Labour party is now so far to the Left, Stalin can’t see them. Ultra Leftie Students in Cambridge have voted to have nothing to do with Remembrance Day. The University has been on Twitter to denounce the abuse directed at their utterly moronic and worthless students even though the whole of Cambridge, if not the whole country, is brought into disrepute by their actions.

In Sheffield University, a visit by Nick Clegg has been cancelled because of threats of violent protest by ‘left wing’ students. Look, if you think Nick Clegg is in any way ‘right wing’, you really need to take a long hard look at your political stance. You’re in a place even Marx never dared venture into.

Police have been told they cannot display poppies on their police cars for Remembrance Day although expensive paint jobs to cover those cars in rainbow colours for the Poofs Parade is actively encouraged. As is dressing police officers in ridiculous outfits and setting them the task of policing online words rather than tackling actual crimes. All so that the oafs in charge can pretend they don’t have enough money. The general public, unsurprisingly, are not happy about this and the actual police officers aren’t happy about it either. Nobody in charge cares, because nobody in charge has the capacity to think ahead. Like Tessie May’s gang, they think about today and money. That’s it.

The EU is collapsing. If our government would only realise it they’d jump ship now with no deal – because we won’t need a deal. There won’t be an EU to deal with, we’d make deals with the individual European countries instead. Just like in the old days. As for Frau Merkel and her Fourth Reich, well even the Germans have had enough of that crap.

Italy will soon begin mass deportations. Austria will follow. Hungary, Poland and friends have avoided that issue by not letting them in in the first place. Denmark is bringing in tougher anti-Islamist laws, even Sweden is starting to drift towards nationalism although I doubt that will be a fast transition. It’s not in their nature, they’ve been driven to it and won’t like it, but they have been left with no choice.

The Middle East has entered a state of perpetual war in which nobody is going to back down. America is heading for a civil war in which people with lots of guns are provoked incessantly by people who can’t make up their minds what gender they are. That will be a short war. America is about to enter mid-term elections and looking at it from outside, it looks as if the Democrats are heading for oblivion. They are becoming increasingly violent and insane, and it is turning moderate and swing voters away from them in droves.

Meanwhile in the UK, we have a Conservative party that obviously does not want to be anywhere near Government for the best part of a century and the alternative is Stalin’s Little Helper and his gang of crazed and violent madmen.

Halloween is coming, and a few days afterwards, Earth gets a visit from a comet that’s shaped like a skull.

I’m not a great believer in cosmic signs but I’d say there’s something very, very big that’s about to change.

It’s not going to be an easy transition.



Now That’s What I Call Mucus

Within days of writing, in an answer on Quora, that I could not remember the last time I had a cold… I caught a cold.  I suppose that was my occasional reminder that if I get too smug, Karma is always waiting to kick my arse.

Anyway, it only slowed things down a little bit. I have passed Peak Mucus and am self-repairing rapidly with the help of Glen Keith.

I have set a final deadline of October 7th. By then, all the current stories will be editied, author contracts and payments done (unless the author opts to be paid in books) and the book assembled. I can still slot in one or two late ones but I have to have them by midnight GMT on the 7th. Oh don’t worry if you’re a minute past. I work at night mostly, I like it that way.

Back to it…

I am not ignoring politics and what is happening in the world generally. Something very big is happening and I’m not sure I trust any of the main players at this point. Someone is getting close to toppling a King somewhere, and it’s not clear who or where. I’ll devote more time to this once the book is done.

And… relax. That’s enough. Back to work.

Visitor season is over. Nearly two months of it this year. I’d set up a temporary office in one of the unused upstairs rooms, among the boxes full of crap I’ll get around to sorting out one day. It functioned, with a dodgy WiFi connection through the granite walls, but it’s good to be back in the real office again.

This room, my office, doubles as the guest room because both staircases are seriously difficult to navigate until you get used to them. The main one is a steep, curved, 17-step staircase with a frighteningly low banister. The other is narrow with a 90 degree bend halfway up and no handrails of any kind. None of the upstairs rooms have heating. My father is 80 and would take far too long to navigate those stairs now!

Also, all the upstairs rooms are full of those boxes of stuff…

Anyway, the bridge down the road is now fixed so the post office is accessible again. I have a backlog of things to post, and a lot of the boxed stuff can go on eBay and get turned back into money. Probably not much in most cases but there’s a lot I’ll never use again. Camping equipment comes to mind…

My little lab has been scheduled for demolition. This is not a surprise, it was set up as a temporary lab in the 1960s and should have been demolished 40 years ago. This has spurred me to officially retire from lab based science work although I’ll still take on consultancy and advisory work. I’m getting too old to deal with 60+ samples a day anyway. I’ll clear the lab in the coming weeks and sell off anything that’s still in regular use in other labs. Might keep a few bits for dabbling, you never know. All those 5-litre flasks and heat mats are likely to come in handy 😉

Even with all this madness, the Halloween anthology is on track to be ready in time. As long as Amazon don’t screw up the merging of CreateSpace and Kindle, it’ll be fine.

Six authors are confirmed so far, a couple more possible and there’s still roughly a week before this one closes. There’s enough to make a book, I’d be delighted to make it a thicker one though. More details closer to the release date – but there are a few interesting new twists this time.

Once this is in the bag I’ll start looking for stories for the Christmas anthology. I could leave it until November but there is the possibility of novels arriving soon so I should get that one started early. As always it’ll be a Christmas theme but no restrictions on genre (other than keeping it within legal boundaries). I’ll be developing the dystopia I’ve built over several Christmas stories in that one, and in the process I’ll solve how I get to a genderless, utterly compliant population for ‘Panoptica’. The real sticking point for that one was always the backstory. I needed a plausible answer for ‘How did it come to this?’ and I have one now.

One day this blog will return to its scheduled programming of whisky-fuelled rants against pretty much anything (but especially Puritans) but for now I have to build a business while having absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

It seems to be working out so far though.



The anthology progresses. Six stories from six authors so far and there’s time for more. It’s keeping me busy.

Anyway, even though it’s a Halloween anthology, it’s not what this post is about. This is about the witchfinder mentality.

In the mid 1600s, in the UK, most of Europe and even in rebel colonist land in the USA, if you were accused of witchcraft you were guilty.

The hysteria about witches meant that once accused, you were, basically, fucked. Trials were based on the presumption of guilt. Torture was used to obtain confessions and if you think waterboarding was bad, believe me, what these accused went through makes waterboarding look like a relaxation method.

You would be accused of sailing in sieves and flying on brooms and you had to prove you didn’t do it. How the hell do you prove you didn’t do something? How do you prove that the sudden death of your neighbour’s cows or sheep was nothing to do with you? It’s the ‘teapot orbiting Betelgeuse’ fallacy. I’m pretty damn sure it’s not there but I can’t definitively prove it. I’ve never tried, in fact, because I don’t actually care what’s orbiting Betelgeuse as long as it’s not me.

Modern science can’t prove a negative. What the hell chance did a 1600s peasant have?

They didn’t have to prove you did it. You had to prove you didn’t. In those days, roughly a century before Van Leeuwenhoek’s invention of the microscope, how do you prove it was a disease that killed the animals, and not your evil magical jiggery-pokery? It was simply not possible. Once accused, you had no way out.

Then you had the mob. The masses were primed to hate witches by the King James version of the Bible which included the new line ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’. It’s not in earlier versions. Mid 1600s, if you didn’t go to Church you were a reviled heathen. So you’d go whether you believed or not. And there really wasn’t much else in the way of education going on for most people at that time. Other than how to milk cows or plough a straight line of course.

Lucky for me, in the event the silly buggers out there ever vote the Greens into power, I can do both those things and also use a scythe and set a snare.

Hey, it’s [the current year] so we’ve outgrown childish tantrum-hate and automatically believing accusations against people we don’t like, haven’t we? Or have we?

I have very limited understanding of American politics. It confuses me that their right side is red and the left is blue because it used to be the other way around in the UK before we switched to communist and ultra-communist options. Now we have red and very-red options here.

I don’t know how Donnie Trumpton became president when most of his own party and all of the other party seem to hate his guts. But he did, against massive odds, and I have to give him kudos for that.

I live near Balmedie in Scotland where there is a Trump golf course and the locals are not happy about it. It’s been an object lesson in the arrogant fuckwittery of the very rich and he is not well liked in this part of Scotland because of it. We don’t actually care about American politics. He might be the best or worst president the USA ever had but here, his people have been behaving like utter bastards for decades and we blame him.

Anyway. Maybe he’s actually a nice guy. I’ve never met him and most likely never will so it’s benefit of the doubt time.

He has been nominating judges for the US version of the High Court in the UK. It’s his right as president as far as I understand it.

He nominated a guy called Kavanaugh. The left don’t like him. Well, they wouldn’t, naturally. So they sent in an accusation that he did some kind of sexual assault at a party when he was in high school. The accuser can’t remember the date or even the city it happened in and both the ‘witnesses’ she named deny seeing anything. One has no memory of the event and the other denies being at a party with her.

Yet all over the Internet, people are believing her unconditionally.

I have known, online and in real life, people who were abused sexually. So many that I have wondered if I was the only butt-ugly child it didn’t happen to. A co-worker in Local Shop had to take time off to testify at a trial of his abuser.

They all had one thing in common. An absolutely precise memory of what happened and when, and who was there. Some things you do not forget.

There are things that happened in my life that I will never forget. None of them, fortunately, involved a trauma such as sexual assault but if it had happened I am sure I’d recall every detail.

I cannot accept this accusation at face value. It goes against everything I have ever heard from genuine victims of such assaults and there have been many. So very many. And it’s too convenient, an anti-Trump accuser of a Trump nominee. Who can’t remember where or when it happened.

Now there’s another one. Her best friend has no recollection of the event and states she had heard nothing about it before. None of their ‘witnesses’ remember anything at all. The claim is that Kavanaugh waved his dick in front of this woman’s face in college.

If I had been at a party where that happened, no matter how smashed I was, I’d remember it. And I was pretty smashed but I remember the time someone set fire to an empty toilet roll tube in the toilet and filled the place with smoke and caused quite a panic (possibly because it was me) and also the time a girl hid in my room with me because her abusive boyfriend was outside (that one wasn’t my fault).

Some things burn into your memory even when drunk. Those I just mentioned were pretty damn trivial compared to being sexually assaulted. If that had happened to me I am sure I could relate the place precisely and the time down to the second and who was there down to their goddamn blood group. Most of the real victims I have met could do most of this.

Yet the mob accept the accusation with no trial and no word from the accused, no more ‘innocent until proven guilty’. We are back to Witchfinder mentality. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.  Let’s have a trial. Oh, too late for that, he’s guilty because the mob says so.

At the same time, paedos and actual convicted rapists are getting a free pass.

Is anyone else wondering about this discrepancy?


I knew it was going too well on this next anthology. Something was bound to bugger it up.

Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing are about to merge into one entity. On the face of it, it’s actually a good idea. It means the print and Kindle versions of a book can be created with a single upload. It should also mean no waiting for the listings to merge into one Kindle/print listing, as happens now.

However, when they start the process, the loading of new books and the editing of existing ones will not be allowed until it’s over.

I don’t know when it will start nor when it will finish. The anthology is going to happen anyway, authors will get paid and stories will get published. There is, however, a real risk this might not happen in time for Halloween.

I can only echo the wise words of my hero, mentor and role model.



De Godin van de Flaporen

The latest from Leg Iron Books is a Dutch translation of Justin Sanebridge’s ‘The Goddess of Protruding Ears‘ – which has, so far, accumulated three 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Yes, ‘Flaporen’ is Dutch for ‘protruding ears’. I think it sounds much better than the English version.

It’s freshly loaded so the print and Kindle versions have not yet blended into one. There was also a small issue with the Kindle version, the fixed version is now loaded but you might still see the glitch until the new one comes through.

Everything has to have one problem. In this case, the Kindle conversion stretched the back cover image over multiple pages. Kindle doesn’t seem to do too well with images in general but this one was really bad. Since the back cover isn’t necessary in an eBook I have simply removed it from the Kindle version. The Smashwords version, so far, seems unaffected.

It’s in Dutch, of course, so I guess that limits the audience somewhat – on the other hand, the original English version is now also available in Dutch so from that viewpoint, the audience base has increased.

The cover of the Dutch version

I am now working 100% on the Halloween anthology. Some stories are already in and several more are promised. The deadline is around October 1st, I can be a little flexible but not more than a few days.

Something always goes wrong and it’s different every time, so I need to allow for ‘blunder time’ between loading the book and having it on sale.

After this one is published I’ll start on the Christmas anthology. Starting early so that it can be a bit more leisurely, and also because there’s Christmas post to consider as well as the usual blunder time!

If you have a Halloween story, any genre, now is the time to send it.

If you don’t have one to hand but you have an idea, you have two weeks to write it.