Ready for Halloween

I hope

The Halloween anthology, the fifteenth Underdog Anthlogy, is now live on Smashwords and going through the process on Amazon. Hopefully it won’t take long. Anthology 16 (Christmas themed) is open for submissions but due to the backlog of other work, editing won’t begin until November so there’s no need to rush.

It still astounds me that it’s got this far. I genuinely thought that putting ‘Volume One’ on the first Underdog Anthology was overly optimistic. And now we have number 15. There are already a couple of stories in for number 16. I’ve created a monster!

Well at least it’s a benign monster. You won’t die from reading its contents. Also, I am happy to report that every single Underdog Anthology has introduced at least one new author, and this one has continued that tradition.

Ah, the Kindle book already appeared while I was writing this post.

I have four stories in there. The first is available under the ‘look inside’ option, followed by a teaser for one of Daniel Royer’s tales, and it’s really worth your time and pennies to see where that one goes. Another of mine is a past entertainment blog post. One more is a reprint of a story from ten years ago, and the fourth is part of the Panoptica lead-in stories. Once I catch up with the backlog I’ll put those lead-ins together in one place.

Okay, the world is full of madness but I’m leaving that alone for tonight. This book was beset by delay after delay, it’s over now and I need a day off before starting the next one.

Fingers crossed that there won’t be any issues with the print copy!

Mad Hancock exits stage left.

Competition first. Winners are Kant Explain and Ripper – each got one answer right and they were the only ones to come up with more than one song, so I’m calling it a double win. Emails are on the way, check your spam folders if you don’t see it.

The ones I had placed were Boris the Spider by the Who, (disturbingly appropriate, really) and The Pick of Destiny by Tenacious D. Nobody got both, perhaps I should be a little less obscure next time.

So, farewell then, Mad Hancock,
You have lost your job
And your family
And nobody cares
– E.J. Thripp

He’s gone, and yet some are still sad to see him go. I expect a few mourned Mussolini’s passing too, but not me. I’m glad to see the back of the man who withheld information from the Prime Monster that might have prevented this extension of the silly lockdown. He has done so many terrible things, and he is brought down by a snog. It’s insane. It’s like Hitler being declared evil only after he has kicked a puppy. Everything was fine up to that point.

Anyway he’s gone. The end result works for me even if the means make no sense. Now we wait to see if his successor will earn the title of Stabby Jabby or Nemo Zebedee. Depends who accepts this poisoned chalice.

If they have any sense of self preservation at all, they will end this charade and blame it all on Mad Hancock. It really won’t affect him, he’s totally buggered anyway. He’s about to find out what happens to useful idiots when they are no longer useful. He’s not alone in that…and there will be more finding that out sooner than they’d like.

It does depend if they can read the mood of the country, something Charles I failed to do with terrible consequences and we are really not far from Charles III taking the throne. The jug-eared green maniac is certain to emulate the vicious taxation regime of his predecessor and very likely end up much the same way.

Well. The die is cast, the game continues.

Now we wait.


I have been pretty tied up with the Spring anthology. It was a little short on pages – that wouldn’t stop publication but it would mean I couldn’t have the title on the spine. A small thing, I know, but this is the fourteenth and I do like consistency.

I was only around ten pages short. I thought about adding in some photos but meh, that’s obvious padding. In the end, Cade F.O.N Apollyon came to the rescue with an extra story and I found two of mine that had not appeared in previous anthologies. So it’s 140 pages.

All interiors are complete – print and eBook versions – so all that’s left is the cover. I had that all planned out too.

I have a candle in a ceramic skull, a gift from CStM (she knows what I like). The skull’s eyesockets are open and the candle is red. I think you can guess where this is going. Well, I’ve had the candle for a while and was waiting for the right time to light it – and the overall dark theme of this Spring anthology demanded it.

I had underestimated how big this candle really is. It’s going to take a few hours burning before the eyes leak. So that’s where we are – waiting for a candle to burn down to photographic levels.

This is a quick snap. It will of course be on a black backsheet but that’s flammable so I’ll have to watch it all the time. For now it’s safely progressing with nothing flammable around it. Once the eyes start to leak, I set up and start photographing. I hope to have the cover finished tomorrow and that’s really all I’m waiting for now. If I’d realised how long it would take I’d have lit it earlier!

Anyway, the book is complete, just waiting for a candle to burn and we’ll have a cover.

So, we are now to be terrified of the Indian variant of covid. Don’t be ridiculous. It’s running a corner shop or making T shirts somewhere. Seriously though, we are getting reports on absolute numbers, not ‘covid per million’ numbers. India has 1.4 billion people and thousands die every day of things like diarrhoea.

I’m not kidding. Giardia lamblia thrives in the warmer waters there and water purification isn’t a widespread thing. This thing turns your arse into Satan’s shitty power washer and you’ll find it hard to take in water faster than you’re pumping it out. And if your water supply is contaminated, taking in more just makes it worse. Really, for India, covid is having a very small extra effect on top of starvation and filthy water supplies and more.

The India strain is being hyped. It’s no more dangerous than any other and none of them have proved to be any more dangerous than the flu… which has vanished. This is now all about selling vaccines, which is what it has been about all along. Don’t imagine that the Pharmers care about you. They care about making money. Nothing else.

It has become increasingly difficult to find any reliable information on anything at all. There are people saying the mRNA vaccines will integrate into your DNA. This is not possible. It simply cannot happen. The DNA versions, well, maybe. I can’t find any data either way. The RNA ones, not a chance.

There are reports that the vaccinated are shedding spike protein. This is actually quite likely. When you exhale, your breath contains shed cells. If you have a virus, it contains virus particles. The spike protein is even smaller than the virus so if your body is making it then having it come out on your breath is almost guaranteed.

It’s not an intact virus. It can’t infect anyone but it seems (anecdotally) that it can have some effect on those around the vaccinated. At least for a while after vaccination. It’s being blamed for irregular periods in unvaccinated women and some effects in breast fed infants. My advice? Don’t risk it. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, wait until that’s over before considering the vaccine. The manufacturers have stated that they have not tested it on pregnant or breastfeeding women and don’t recommend they take it. Listen to them, not to the NHS who think they can stick this potion into anyone and it’ll be fine. The NHS is lost to the Land of Money and doesn’t care about anything else now. If it ever did.

Then we have the 5G thing. It’s still going. I don’t see how microwaves can affect an infection but I’m keeping an open mind for now. You never know. One thing I am sure of is that microwaves cannot initiate an infection. That requires an infectious agent and no EM radiation can conjure one out of the air. Whether it can trigger a dormant infection, well, I don’t know. There are other issues with short range powerful microwaves, but out here I won’t have to worry too much about those for a long time. We still have copper phone lines.

There is so much more conflicting information to deal with. Later, if I can make any sense of it.

For now, it’s not the vaccines that worry me so much. It’s the religious fervour surrounding them. I have never before been asked if I’ve taken any vaccine and have never asked anyone else. Now it’s like some kind of assimilation juice – if you haven’t had it you are not One Of Us. Well what about tuberculosis? Mumps? Polio? Any of the others? Nobody ever cared. Why now, for something no more dangerous than flu?

I know, if you had the vaccine, you’re happy with the vaccine passport. You think it will only apply to this one, right? You don’t think it will apply to flu or any of the far more dangerous diseases. Just covid. That’s the only one.

I need to publish this book fast. I have a story that tells you where it’s going.

I don’t think you’re going to like it.

The Title Poll

Well, I think editing for the Spring anthology is now done at long last. I’ll start shipping them out tomorrow. For the contracts I’ll need a title so while the authors are considering their edits (and maybe making changes) we have a few days to decide on the title.

I have been all around the block on poll software. The one on WordPress seems to only allow three options so we’d have had to do it by elimination rounds. I don’t like that, I’d rather we all voted at once so I don’t have to split the options.

There are options for polls online but they want more information/access than I am willing to give. So it’s a simple list, put a vote in the comments, just a number will do (I check spam daily because the Spaminator gets overzealous sometimes, so don’t worry if it doesn’t show at once).

The winning title suggestion gets a free copy when the book is published. Unless it’s me or Roobee, in which case the one that gets the most votes gets the free book. I will go with whatever title wins this poll.

I have had to leave out a couple of options. Springtime for Handcock and Germoline, from Delcatto, raised a smile but I might risk a lawsuit from Mel Brooks. If you haven’t seen ‘The Producers’, you really should. A couple of others, while viable suggestions, I could not even begin to imagine a cover for. And that would have to be fairly fast.

This is the most relaxed anthology of the year. It has to come out in spring but it’s not tied to Easter so doesn’t have a tight deadline – and spring is currently on its second attempt at acutally appearing. I did consider holding back a couple of weeks and calling it ‘The Clotted Bloods of May’ but that might be far too harshly accurate, given current events. So that won’t be in the list.

Right, without further diddly-doo, here are the options. I haven’t put names to them, just vote in comments with a number or a title (one has two options) and we will close this at midnight on 19th April (GMT, aka PBT, Proper British Time).

  • 1 Dark Spring
  • 2 The Cold Spring stories
  • 3 The Dark Rites of Spring
  • 4 The April Halloween
  • 5 The Lies of March
  • 6a Hopeless Springs Eternal
  • 6b Hopeless Springs Infernal
  • 7 Slinky and the Weak Spring
  • 8 The Common Cold Spring Anthology (Covid edition)
  • 9 Time for Dead
  • 10 Dante’s Spring
  • 11 The Ghosts of Spring
  • 12 Spring Daze: Stories of safe and effective insanity
  • 13 The Dark Ides of March
  • 14 The Awokening
  • 15 Clout is out
  • 16 Tulips and other variants
  • 17 Spring Tied

Okay, just comment with a number and I’ll add them up manually. This is the first crowdsourced title for an Underdog Anthology, but if the daft lockdowns continue it might not be the last. Ideas for covid-related titles are getting thin – we’ve had ‘Tales from Loch Doon’, ‘Mask-Querade’ and ‘Coronamas’ already.

The cover image will work with the title. The choice is yours.

Spring Anthology

Working on it. Delayed by birthdays (my son’s and mine), shovelling snow, keeping the heating system going, bringing an 18th century chimney back into use (with landlord’s help of course) and having my copy of OpenOffice now crashing every time I try to open a file. At least that’s free to reinstall. Most submissions come in Word but a few come in OpenOffice which is actually just as good. Almost, but not quite, entirely compatible.

It just doesn’t feel like Spring. It did for a few days, the daffodils even started coming up but they’re all flattened and frosted now. I don’t know how well they’ll survive. I’m just glad I didn’t start planting anything outside. Winter didn’t end, it just took a long weekend off.

Anyway, RooBeeDoo and I are working on edits. I hope to send them all out this weekend. Then contracts, payments, and finally publication.

I’m still stuck for a title. I’m thinking something spring-related because I’m running out of Coronaplague related ideas and this nonsense looks like it’s going on for a while yet. They can only sell vaccines under emergency authorisation. If the emergency ends, they can’t sell any more vaccines. So the emergency isn’t going to end.

Incidentally, emergency authorisation for experimental (yes, they are) vaccines only works if there is no effective treatment, hence the debunking of all effective treatments. Boris has said that we need to get a vaccine passport to prove we’re safe to be around in a crowd, yet on the same day he said two fully vaccinated people can’t meet indoors because the vaccines don’t guarantee protection. Apparently the ‘passport’ does. So why not skip the vaccines and just give us the passports?

Anyway. They aren’t giving up on this crap any time soon. So I need to get a title that maybe hints at the farce we’re living through but still leaves options open for at least the next three anthologies.

So far, options include ‘Dark Spring’, ‘The Cold Spring Stories’, ‘The Last Rites of Spring’, ‘The April Halloween’ (most of the stories are fairly dark this time, not too surprising under the circumstances) and any suggestions will be welcome.

I shouldn’t expect you to do it for free. Come up with a title Roobee and I hadn’t thought of and if we use it, you get a free print copy.

Okay. Back to work…


It’s loaded. Two authors were still to respond to the final PDF but I checked over their stories and found nothing wrong. If there are changes required I can upload an updated version later. It’s now only 11 days to Christmas and this one has been hit with far too many delays already. The print book can take a couple of days to show up, although it’s usually faster. I hope it’s online in time for Christmas, it’ll fill someone’s stocking if they remember to take the feet out first.

Smashwords is of course instant – but it might not get premium status. There is quite a procedure for multi-author books and Smashwords hasn’t really been all that big an income for any of the single author books from their expanded distribution this year. So I won’t get too tense about it. It’s not as if these anthologies make any money anyway.

I was surprised at how fast the Kindle version went live. It was a couple of hours! It’s not normally that fast. The print book has to be manually checked at Amazon’s end so will take a bit longer. Hopefully not much longer.

Okay, this looks like a wrap for this anthology. The next one will come up around Easter time and I hope to be able to type without a splint on my left hand by then. It’s definitely improving but that could be because the splint doesn’t let it move.

I will need to think up another Moros story for the spring anthology. He’s in full view now. Masks do nothing useful, that’s been proved. The asymptomatic are not spreading the virus, that’s been proved. So you now have a virus so deadly you have to take a test to see if you have it, then take a vaccine that’s more dangerous than the virus and this deadly and all-permeating virus is killed by plain old soap.

And yet everyone is still terrified. The KGB were right. Scare people for a few months and they won’t accept proof that there is really nothing to be scared of. Moros must be laughing his arse off.

Mad Hancock was not crying on TV. He was laughing. Penis Morgan’s terror must have delighted him and his puppet masters. I’ve seen videos of ‘vaccinations’ that do not include a disinfecting swab before the needle goes in and even one injected through a sleeve. I mean, come on, William Shakespeare from Stratford was the first? Do they have to rub salt into your eyes before you see the piss-take happening?

I’ve had many, many vaccinations in my career in the microbiology of infectious diseases. I am not taking this one.

Whether you do is entirely your choice.

Just be sure to read the book before you die.


All author contracts are in, the PDF of the whole thing is assembled and sent to authors for final final checks. The Christmas book shouldn’t be long now. As long as I haven’t screwed up.

I have also obtained a proper wrist splint. This is far better than the elastic bandage because it allows no wrist movement at all. Typing with that hand is like pecking at the keyboard with error prone sticks but it’s still better than doing it all one handed. It means I can last longer between rests. Arnica cream also seems to help, it might be a pure placebo effect but it hurts less so I’ll take it.

Anyway, here’s the contents page for those wondering what’s in the book. It contains a high proportion of dark Christmas tales which seems appropriate for Anthology 13 and the ridiculous restrictions curently imposed on us due to Chinese play-acting and the Mad Hancock’s delight in power. There are some proper gentle ones in there too. It’s also 50/50 on male/female authors this time so nobody can complain about discrimination.

Foreword          H.K. Hillman

Stog Gayle Fidler

Death Tries Something Different Mark Ellott

Cancelling Nicholas .Mark Ellott

The Fly Margo Jackson

Merced Daniel Royer

When Those Gang Members Celebrated Christmas    Daniel Royer

Burning Injustice Emma Townsend

Adam and Eve’s Day Johnathan Martin

Christmas for Two? Marsha Webb

The Nest Marsha Webb

And I Weep Like a Child for the Past Stephen W. Duffy

Not All Ghosts .Stephen W. Duffy

Christmas Death Wish Roo B. Doo

Piper in Hazmat H.K. Hillman

Afterword Roo B. Doo

Two authors independently came up with talking animals. another two gave very, very different renditions of when Santa met Death and a further two provided different versions of rebellious Santa elves. It’s developed into a very interesting book indeed.

Santa is coming…

Book assembly is under way. Waiting for two author contracts but the rest are in, those who wanted cash payments are mostly paid (one wants part books and part cash, that’s a legitimate option, it’s in the contract) and the stories are formatted ready to assemble the book.

My knackered hand was worse today. I had to take the car for MOT on Monday. It’s an automatic gearbox so the left hand doesn’t have much to do between the start and end of the journey. However, the courtesy car was a manual box. All that gear changing, especially in that very narrow box, did a fair bit of damage. The good news is that my car passed easily, all it cost was the price of the test. I was surprised, it’s been lying idle most of the year and I had expected a few parts to have decayed.

The courtesy car was free, I just had to refill the tank, so I shouldn’t complain but… does it always have to be one of those that looks like the escape pod from a real car? It was so small and low down I was worried about my arse scraping on the road. Emblazoned with decals and adverts, it looked like the sort of car you’d expect 50 clowns to get out of. It really, really didn’t like the road up to the farm. I’m lucky I didn’t rip the bottom out of it.

I only used it to drive home and back to the garage some hours later. It was essential especially now that you aren’t allowed to wait in the garage, and there is no public transport out here. It wasn’t a bad car apart from the feature nagging me to change up a gear when I knew the tight curve we were on was about to go up a steep hill. If I change up here, car, you really won’t thank me.

Still, it’s all over now. and book assembly is under way, which involves mostly copy/paste and mouse work so it can be done one handed. I hope to have the proper splint to replace my strap-on tomorrow. That’s strap-on bandage, you filthy minded swines! It’s getting sweaty and in need of a wash. I should get another one.

I do need those last two contracts though. I can’t publish those stories without them.

It’s developing

My hand still hurts like hell. Apparently I’m supposed to not use it for 48 hours, like that’s even possible at the moment. Still, it is 2020 and it’s also Anthology 13 so I should have expected problems.

I went with ‘Coronamas’ with the tagline ‘This year you’re all on his naughty list’. The cover still has to get a bit more text and likely adjustments but here’s the basic image for the front. It’s covered in lovely red Christmassyness and features Santa. I still might give him glowing eyes.

Okay. Now I have a title I can start putting out contracts. One author left to respond to edits, hopefully won’t be long now but I know she’s very busy.

In other news, I have received my first letter from the NHS about getting me stabbed with flu vaccine. Since there is apparently almost zero flu this year, I will decline. I think it’s just come home to them that by marking up every death as a Covid death, nobody feels the need to get the flu vaccine so now they can’t sell that one. They’re going to force the Covid one, of course. I’ll refuse that too.

Anyway. This anthology is taking longer than I would like but it’s getting there. I’ll start on contracts tomorrow.

Never Mind the Baubles

… here come the Sick Pistols. (thanks to Roo B. Doo for that title).

Well it’s that time again, my hand is still strapped up but it’s beginning to accept short periods of two handed typing. It’s growing back slowly. I have of course imbibed large quantities of painkiller so there might be some digressions.

Fill the wards with those infected, falalalala, lalalala

Tis the season to get tested, falalalala lalalala

*ahem* There is a reason for the madness. I am struggling with a title for the Christmas anthology. I’m thinking a dark cover, the moon in the background with Corona spikes and a silhouette of Santa with glowing eyes. But what to call it? I have been brainstorming with Roo B Doo on this and we haven’t come up with one we both like yet.

The Darkest Christmas

Santa gets the Sack

The Christmas Downgrade

The Disease in Santa’s Sack

Viral Christmas


Track and Trace Santa

Season’s Vaccines

Any more input welcome. I need a title to put on the author contracts. All but two have responded to edits, pretty good since they only went out in the last two days. It’s nearly there now, but I can’t publish without those contracts agreeing to let me – and there needs to be a title on the contract. Nobody sensible would give me an open contract for the amounts I can afford to pay. And I won’t ask them to.

So I need a title soon, I have until the last author responds and on past experience, that’s not likely to be very long. It’s going to be a pretty grim Christmas for those of us who aren’t rich or pompous enough to ignore their own rules, and the title should reflect that. Many of the stories do.

In other news, my daughter’s boyfriend has borrowed one of my slingshots. He has a bet that he can knock over a can at 30 yards with a cactus fired from a slingshot. Well of course I loaned him one of the good ones. This is exactly the sort of thing everyone should be doing. I can’t use them anyway until my hand heals.

I think he’s a good fit for the family.