Treeskull Stories, done in time for Halloween

It’s done. Amazon currently list the paperback and Kindle versions separately but they will merge the listings in a few days.

Other eBook formats are available from Smashwords, and hopefully I’ll figure out how to get through Smashwords’ anthology rules to reach a wider audience. It’s easy with single author books but has become a chore with anthologies like this.

I have to work out how to sell eBooks direct. I can get them converted into all kinds of formats and really the whole thing could be automated so readers can get copies when I’m asleep. Print books, well, I’d have to keep a stock of those and have no idea how well any particular one will sell, so that’s a risk. I can leave that side of things to Amazon.

Right. Couple of days to catch up on sleep and then back to it. There’s lots to do…


Treeskull Stories in press at last

I have gone through the tortuous process of loading the third Underdog Anthology onto Amazon (print and Kindle) and Smashwords (eBook in various formats). It’ll take a day or so to start showing up. Finally I can call this one ‘done’.

There are already six stories in for the Christmas anthology so that’s already a definite. There might or might not be an Easter one next year, it depends on how much interest there is. Easter is a tough subject, much more than Halloween or Christmas. Still, you never know.

I’ll post links as soon as it becomes available. Meanwhile, there’s work to do…

Update – Forgot to mention, the print copies will sell at £4.25. I’ve set fixed prices on the print version to see how well that works out. It’s a good one to try it with because there are no royalties to worry about – if it hits zero or negative profit, nobody else is affected.

The Kindle version is tied to the dollar price so it’ll vary depending on the exchange rates.

Oh, and the full cover looks like this –

Remember, only the print version has interior illustrations.


I’ll have to tease a little longer on ‘Treeskull Stories’. I had a late entry, hours before the deadline but as it was before the deadline I had to deal with it. It’s good, so it’s in. Just waiting for the ‘About the Author’ page for that one and we’re ready to roll. It’s possible that I will have author copies in the authors’ hands in time for Halloween this year. This one topped 130 pages, not too shabby and should be cheap.

Here’s the contents list (now finalised) –


Lee Bidgood
Cobalt Blue

Stephen W. Duffy
All Change

Mark Ellott
Tout Passé, Tout Cassé, Tout Lassé
Ghost Riders
The Eagle

Roo B. Doo
Trick or Treat

Justin Sunshine
Casual Labour

H. K. Hillman
Bernie’s Bargain
The Macbeth Trio
Oak and Holly


As I’ve said, the interior illustrations will only be in the print book. The eBook will, as usual, contain the back cover from the print book but the illustrations really only work as facing-page images at the start of each story. Also, it’s a pain in the arse trying to get all e-readers to accept them.

The Christmas anthology is building up, I’m going to take a few days off dead once the Halloween one is in but then it’s back to full speed. I’m accepting stories for that one now.

Meanwhile, I have a 100,000 word novel to go through and some fast ones. An abridged Cultish from Hugo Stone, a French book of stories from Dirk Vleugels and a collection of all the Morning Cloud stories from Mark Ellott – including the new Christmas one. All of these are pretty much completed and just need formatting. ‘Jessica’s Trap’ and ‘Samuel’s Girl’ only need new covers and they can go out too. I’ll mesh this with novel editing so there should be a raft of books coming out in time for Christmas.

There has been a real blast of spam on the blog of late. None of it gets through, but where I usually have around 3 or 4 spam messages a day, today I’ve had over 100. All on one post. ‘Why Big Food Will Lose‘.

I don’t see why that post in particular is one someone would want shut down. The spam isn’t even about food. Most of it is blocks of meaningless drivel or adverts for Viagra. Nothing to do with the subject matter.

Meh. The spam filter is doing its job. I’ll check before deleting to make sure no innocent bystanders get caught by the Spaminator while it’s in its current killing frenzy. Still, I do wonder – why that post? I thought it was pretty unremarkable.

Then again, maybe I’m assuming too much intelligence in that spammer’s head. Maybe they just spam at random.

24 hours to go…

I have now formatted the print and Kindle versions of Treeskull Stories, the third Underdog Anthology, but there is still time for a last minute addition. 24 hours of time. I don’t mind delaying publication by a day or so to include another story but no more than that. If there’s nothing to add, I’ll start uploading just after midnight tomorrow night.

All author contracts are signed, all formalities complete. If you sent in something and have not heard from me then it’s gone missing somewhere. Let me know if that’s happened!

There are interior illustrations in the print version but not in the eBook versions. There’s a simple reason for this – interior pictures are incredibly awkward to get to display properly on all the different sized screens out there so I’m not doing it. Besides, those who buy the print book pay more for it, so there should be a perk, I feel.

I’ll put it on Smashwords and try getting through their new and bizarre rules on anthologies. Sooner or later I’m bound to work out exactly what they want.

24 hours to crunch time. Roobeedoo did suggest it would be appropriate to publish a Halloween anthology on Friday 13th but considering the chaos I had with the Easter one, I’m not chancing that! Besides, I set a deadline of midnight GMT on the 14th and I’m obliged to stick to that.

In the meantime I’m working on expanding my collection of empty whisky bottles with a new one. Glenallachie, a Speyside single malt from Aberlour, Scotland. Might be part of the Aberlour stable of whiskies or might be a separate distillery, I don’t yet know for sure. It’s very nice although on the pricey side (not the ‘aarrgh!’ level of pricing, but the ‘think about it a bit’ level) so I probably won’t get it very often. It’s good to try out new whiskies though.

Any stories that miss out on this one, if you can give it a Christmas slant, that anthology will close on December 1st. I’ll need extra time to deal with the Christmas chaos.

In between, there are other books to deal with.

Here’s another of the interior images, a clue to the story. I’ll post one more before publication of the book.

{update} Done. One late entry just before the deadline but it’s already edited and inserted. The book will get uploaded tomorrow (Sunday) and as long as there are no issues it will be available well before Halloween.

Four days

I have assembled the Treeskull Stories into its earliest stage and sent it to the authors so they can check their parts of it. It does mean all authors get to see the whole (so far) book but they all get a copy or more anyway and since I can’t yet pay much, any perks are always a bonus. So far it’s weighing in at roughly 120 pages depending on how the formatting pans out and whether any more stories arrive.

I have to close this one on the 14th October. It has to be ready to be ordered and arrive in time for Halloween. After Halloween, people won’t be so interested and will be looking for Christmas books. I think we should have a Christmas book. It might not be quite what they expect.

I tried to do one last year but ran out of time and didn’t have enough stories unless I filled it with mine. That would have made it a ‘H. K. Hillman with supporting features’ book. I’m not interested in that. It’s not what Leg Iron Books is about.

This year the Christmas anthology is looking much better and I’ll be ready to start taking more stories for it on the 14th October. It will close on the 1st December because the Christmas period is chaotic and it will need to be ready early.

So if you have a Halloween story, it has to get to me by midnight on the 14th or I can’t do it. I need a couple of days to edit it and find/make an illustration for it and then fit it into the contents. I also have to set up the internal links for the eBook, which isn’t hard, but takes time.

The Treeskull Stories have already passed my 100 page limit for being worth the work of publishing. It’s a definite go. There is room for more, if you have one.

But please don’t send it at five to midnight on the 14th because a load of other people might do the same. Then I’d have to go with whoever gets there first.

Christmas stories for the next one, the deadline is midnight on December 1st.

That’s GMT for all times, by the way.



A mish-mash

Lots of bits. I’m writing and procrastinating about writing by writing something else. This.

I held off saying anything about the Las Vegas shooting until there was some clarity on what happened. There still isn’t any, if anything, it’s got worse.

The shooter was a white man, a Democrat, a Muslim, a lone wolf, part of a terror organisation nobody can identify, a rich man with a girlfriend and everything to live for and no previous indication of any trouble at all, and he shot himself. After he shot around 600 people with an (already illegal in the USA or so I’m told) automatic weapon.

There are reports that there were other guns firing from other hotels. Claims that he didn’t act alone. Claims that someone on the ground was shooting too. Claims that someone set off firecrackers to distract people from the sound of gunshots. I have no idea what to believe now.

Yeah. Pick the truth out of that lot. It’s a mess.

This is, once again, being used as an excuse to take all the guns away from Americans. Well, they took our UK guns away a long time ago and the result? Criminals wave illegal firearms around because they know for sure we law abiding people don’t have any. Their guns were unlicensed and illegal before the ban. It made no difference to them.

I’ve never owned a live round gun. Never wanted one so you could argue the ban made no difference to me. It did though. You see, if a burglar broke into my house before the ban he could not know if I was armed or not. Now he knows I’m not. That makes a big difference. I can’t bluff if the burglar knows for sure I don’t have a gun.

In Scotland you now have to have a licence for an airgun. Sold mine before it happened because it was clearly coming. We had to hand in my son’s BB guns from when he was a child – they fired plastic pellets that could dent paper at 10 yards but they counted as airguns under the new law. So, in Scotland, you can’t even have a BB gun without a licence now.

What I can’t understand is that it is Democrats calling for gun control. So… only the government will have guns, not the people. The Republican government, the one they despise and accuse of corruption, Nazism and white supremacy every minute of every day, will have all the guns. They won’t be allowed to have any, only the Trump government will be armed. Why do they think that’s a good idea?

Well, these are the same people who accuse the police of being racist murderers while insisting only the police should have guns. You can’t expect sense from minds that warped.

It’s also interesting to note than many of the big names claiming that nobody needs a gun for protection are always surrounded by armed security. ‘Hypocrite’ is far too small a word.

And another thing. I doubt that Las Vegas shooter hit with every round. If he hit 600 people from the 35th floor of a hotel then, even giving him a generous 50% hit rate, he must have fired at least 1200 rounds. Surely, someone buying that many rounds – especially for a weapon that the public aren’t allowed to own – would have raised a red flag somewhere? How did he do that?

Anyway, on to cheerier things. The anthology is still on target and after that I have a book by Dirk Vleugels translated from Dutch to French, a resizing of the ‘Han Snel ‘ book (apparently people think it should be bigger), an  abridged version of Hugo Stone’s ‘Cultish’ – all of which should be quick to publish – then I have a novel by Lee Bidgood (who is also in the new anthology) and two of my own, ‘Jessica’s Trap’ and ‘Samuel’s Girl’ which are out of contract with the original publisher and just need new covers and a quick revamp.

Then the Christmas anthology. Busy busy busy.

I’m also back into making little models. I’m thinking of making the van that came with Sparkle Truck  into ‘White Supremacy Van Man’. That should raise a few hackles.

I discovered ‘Metal Earth’ stainless steel kits and have made a few. They’re quick but they take a long time. Even with a magnifier and a good light, they are tiny and shiny and are held together with extremely tiny tags. So I need to stop before it gets to hammer time, and go back to it when the destructive urge has subsided. Total work time is only a few hours but some of them take days to finish.  I’ve made a few, there will be pictures. Also advice if you fancy having a go.

The train obsession has resurfaced. I sold off most of the N gauge stuff when I was broke and have been slowly accumulating OO gauge since. All second hand of course – the older models are basically a motor and contact from the track. Very simple devices. Unless the motor is burned out, a non-runner is either over-oiled or has dirty wheels. Easily fixed, as are missing buffers and couplings. I pick up the non runners on eBay and will sell a few as working engines to make the hobby self funding. Wagons, all I need is the frame and wheels and I can make the rest.

I recently bought two brand new sets. Both have a GWR 0-4-0 tank engine, a few wagons, a basic track oval and a mains-powered controller. One was £60 in Asda, the other was £48 in Toys R Us (half price). The Toys R Us one has repainted the engine blue and given it a probably mythical company name. That’s okay, I can fix that. Excess controllers are easy to sell too.

Modern engines cost a lot more because they have, or can be fitted with, DCC (direct cab control) which means you can run two trains on the same track and control them independently. I don’t want that. It’s great for clubs where you can have people running their own trains and someone in charge of signals so they don’t run a train into the back of another one, but for solo use it’s more concentration than I want to apply. It’s supposed to be a relaxing hobby.

It does mean that the old stuff is on sale cheap. That suits me fine. I recently saw a brand new Class 08 in OO gauge (you might have seen them at mainline stations, the square blue shunting engine) on sale for nearly £200! I bought a Class 58 (a BIG freight diesel) for £25 on eBay. In perfect condition but can’t do the DCC thing. Fine with me, I prefer the old stuff.

Another eBay win was the Lima station with signal. I think I paid about £5 for it. The station is continental and the platforms are too low and too far from the train. I’ve already taken the building off the base and fixed the broken signal. I’ll rebuild platforms over it. The building will make a good house somewhere.

The big thing with this bit of kit is that it has an isolating track. When the signal is red, the train is on dead track. When it’s green, the track is live. It doesn’t use LEDs, it uses a single white racist light and a blanking plate that moves up and down with the switch. I’m fine with that. Filament bulbs are easier to replace anyway.

The bugbear with this one is that the signal light takes power from the track. The higher the power, the brighter the light. This means that to have the light on full brightness the train has to be approaching the station at full speed, hit the dead track section and stop dead with all the passengers creamed into the front end of every coach.

It also means that to have the light green to send the train on its way, the power has to be on full before switching on the track, so the new passengers get creamed into the back of each coach when it takes off like a bullet.

The solution is simple, I just have to rewire so the signal light takes power from a constant source instead of the track. The dead section and light switch will work just the same and the train can come in and leave again at a normal slow speed.

I have to make a portable railway. I have an attic big enough for an impressive O gauge setup but I don’t know how long I’m going to live here. So I need something mobile.

I know, I know, you want to call me a geek and I’m fine with that.

If everyone was into models instead of guns and ideology and hate though, what would the world be like?

Halloween update

Okay, so far, here is the contents list for the next anthology. I have to close submissions on the 14th (midnight, GMT) so there’s a little time left. This time I am determined to have an illustration for each story, so after midnight on the 14th I really can’t take anything new. There were delays outside my control on the Hollow Bunnies book that meant the book didn’t show in time for Easter. This time I’m going in early.

The contents so far –

Lee Bidgood – Cobalt Blue

Roo B Doo – Trick or Treat
– Afterword

Stephen Duffy – All Change

Mark Ellot – Tout Passé
– Ghost Riders (A Morning Cloud story)
– The Eagle

H. K. Hillman – Oak and Holly
– The Macbeth Trio
– Bernie’s Bargain

I’ll also have to write a short foreword.

There is still time for a few more if you want to get in. The illustrations are a combination of heavily Photoshopped photos and hand drawn ones and combinations of the two. Mark Ellott has provided his own, and that helps a lot with my workload (hint to those who plan to send a story at five to midnight on the 14th).

Interior images have to be monochrome. A single colour image will put the book into silly prices. As always, the anthology will be priced for absolute minimum profit because they are more advertising vehicles for Leg Iron Books than anything else.

Here’s a sample image, the one for ‘All Change’ –

Yes, it’s a ghost train variant. A new twist  🙂

I will need an ‘About the Author’ page from all authors. Those who are repeat offenders, I can just re-use the ones from the previous books unless you want them updated. The author page is yours, you can say what you like there within the bounds of legality and promoting your other work is absolutely encouraged.

Authors can elect to be paid in cash (£10 per story) or in books. I will price this as low as possible, I aim for no more than £5 per print book and the absolute minimum on eBook. I can send authors an eBook in any format they want for free and spreading that around is allowed. It’s not piracy, it’s advertising. If you can get a review then that’s even better.

One thing I have to take into consideration is the Smashwords rule that all the author names have to be on the cover. That means the Smashwords eBook cover will be plastered with names and will look untidy but it’s their rule, so I have no choice.

This one is a definite ‘go’. There will also be a Christmas anthology, the rule there is simple. It has to be based at Christmas. Any genre as long as it’s Christmas. Anything from the whimsical to the horrific. It can be Christian or Saturnalia or ghost story or science fiction or whatever takes your fancy. The only rule is that it has to be at Christmas.

And it has to be good. That’s never been a problem so far.