Next anthology

It’s going to be April.

I have parents visiting to see their new great grandchild in March, I have Lee Bidgood’s book to finalise-and it’s a doozy, and I might have another novel in March too. So the next anthology will be April. Around Easter but not specifically Easter. No theme.

It’ll be an ‘anything goes’ like the first one. Any genre, any style. As long as it’s legal.

We’ll call April 1st, midnight GMT as  the deadline. Just over a month away.

£10 per story or the equivalent in books. That’s the deal. Copyright remains with the author, you can re-use the story any way you like. I pay for one use in one anthology. That’s it. Writing belongs to the writer.

So if you have a story in you that’s clawing its way out, get it written and send it in. This will be Underdog Anthology 5 and it won’t be the last.

Start thinking Halloween if you’re not ready for this one 😉



Short story competitions

Dirk has brought to my attention some short story competitions. These are only open to already-published authors so those who have published through Leg Iron Books might be eligible.

I’m not, because they only want authors who have been published in the UK and Ireland, and the novels I had published were put out by an American publishing house. Republishing my stuff under Leg Iron Books doesn’t count – as I am both author and publisher it would still be self-publishing.

For those with a scary story in mind, The Horror Zine will soon be looking for stories for a ghost anthology. Must be a ghost story, must be scary. The general e-zine is horror fiction, poetry and art – the ghost limitation only applies to the anthology. This is a highly rated e-zine and well worth getting into if you can. The details of the anthology aren’t on the site yet. I’ll put up details when they appear. This one takes stories in English from anywhere in the world and welcomes first-timers. No need to be previously published, but the standard has to be really good. New stories only.

Back to the competitions. I did have a moment of wondering at the point of only accepting entries from established authors. That’s no way to find new talent. Still, their gaff, their rules. It does ensure all the entries are from someone who can write to publication standard so they have less filtering to do.

The Sunday Times competition is a big one with a massive prize so you’re going to be up against some really talented writers. You guys can do it though. It’s open to anyone from anywhere but you must have been published in the UK or Ireland. Not self published, not vanity-press (the ones where you pay someone to ‘publish’ you, when all they have really done is print a few copies for you). Leg Iron Books is possibly the tiniest publisher on the face of the Earth but it still counts.

The Sunday Times one is closed until June, they open for entries in June and close in October. Plenty of time to get something really polished up. And if they don’t like it, it’s still useable for an anthology.

The BBC/Cambridge University competition is likely to require you to be politically correct. It doesn’t say that but it’s the BBC and a university so keep the stories leaning to the left or totally politically neutral.

The deadline is 12th March 2018 – just over a month. Read the rules carefully because the first filter for any competition like this is – does it fit the rules? If not, then it’s dumped without reading it. They have to filter the submissions down and that’s the easiest first test. Everyone will do this, it’s not sinister or sneaky, it’s how it’s done.

Sections 2.8 and 2.8.1 are where the publication part comes in. Leg Iron Books fits the criteria for ‘established publisher’, surprisingly enough. It certainly surprised me. However, it means any author published by Leg Iron Books is eligible and I think that includes the anthologies, not just the single author books. Your short stories were published by Leg Iron Books, not by yourselves, and you were paid (almost everyone took it in books but that still counts). Nobody pays to be published here so as far as I can see, the criteria are fulfilled.

Not by me, unfortunately. I can’t go for these unless I get my stuff published by a different UK publisher. The rest of the LI Books authors are okay though.

The Edge Hill University award is a little different. All the others I mentioned want original, unpublished stories. This one wants single-author short story collections published by UK-resident authors during 2017. Mine are not eligible, they’re older and they were self published. The Underdog Anthologies are not eligible. Only Mark Ellot’s Blackjack or Sinistré collections fit the criteria from the LI books so far published.

If you’re not already published and you can write a scary story, the Horror Zine is the best one to get into. The really big competitions are only open to those who are already published and the criteria can vary a lot between them. The prizes, though, are often substantial and worth trying for. Even if you don’t win, you might get noticed.

Just be sure to read the rules very carefully. If you don’t fit the rules, the story is out in round one.

Round two is where they read it.


Sugar (and books)

It’s true that eating too much sugar is bad for you. Too much of anything is bad for you. Even water (I rarely touch the stuff myself, having kept pet fish and observed what they do in it).

Yet, having no sugar is bad for you too. Okay, you can get a lot of it as sugar in fruit (in season) and your liver can make sugar out of some other foodstuffs but you have to remember that your body works on sugar. That’s its fuel. Cut out all sugar, all carbohydrate, and your metabolism will burn protein for energy and you will go into ketosis. That is definitely not healthy.

It’s worse with salt. Too much salt is bad, yes, but a little too much is no problem. Your kidneys will dump the excess. It’s what they do. Too little salt – well, your body cannot create sodium. It’s an element. If you have too little, then hyponatremia beckons and if you persist in your salt-free diet while getting sicker, you will die.

Maybe this is a population-thinning exercise. It’ll certainly wipe out the genes of people who put healthy kids on salt, sugar and gluten free vegan diets. A global experiment in Darwinism, maybe?

Lately we have the gobby kitchen staff, in the grinning shape of Jamie Oliver, demanding all breakfast cereals reduce their sugar content. Yes, he’s self-promoting again.

It is worth pointing out every time, that this flabby-tongued gobshite has never been elected to anything, has no medical background, is neither a nutritionist nor a dietitian, and makes pronouncements to get people to notice him.

He is a cook. Since when did business boardrooms and elected MPs take orders from kitchen staff?

They do though. He has one of his tantrums and they all go ‘ooo, the Dreaded Cook is coming, we have to reformulate everything so it tastes like a troupe of weasels peed over it and then nobody will buy it’.

Stupid, isn’t it? But that’s how the world works now. Gobby bastards who have never stood for any kind of election and who have no qualifications in the subject they are spouting off about are the ones being listened to by our vacuous elected representatives.

Every political party should have ‘superficial preening party’ as at least part of their name. Every one. None of them are any use any more. There are very, very few MPs with any brains at all. Load of prancing popinjays who think they have been voted in to do what the hell they please to the people who voted for them.

This is where Cromwell came in last time the government was so out of touch. They won’t know that because they have fucked up education so badly now that history students think Henry the Eighth was the spitting image of Idi Amin and they don’t remember what happened last time we had a King Charles. It was even worse the time before and we’ll soon have Charles III. Who is already bonkers so he has a head start on the first two.

It’s all coming together very unpleasantly, I think…

We’re still in January. We are expected to eat only vegan food and touch no alcohol this month. As you would expect, I have had not one meat-free or whisky-free day this month and have no plans to do so. If they move the Stoptober nonsense into January we can just rename it Miserable Puritan Month and get it all out of the way at the start of the year.

Government by gobshite. Who’d have thought it could come to this? All we have in Parliament is a bunch of mindless expenses claimants who do what they are told by charities and kitchen staff. People who claim to be experts but who are only expert in self-aggrandisement and thuggish controlling methods.

Anyway… the next book from Leg Iron Books is going to piss off these people massively. It has lots and lots of smoking and booze in it, and it’s extremely funny. A complex plot that leads to a logical conclusion – and when you get to the part with the chugger, I reckon every reader is going to have to wipe tears of laughter from their eyes. Unless you’re a chugger, in which case you might want to be a little less aggressive in the future.

It’s by Lee Bidgood, who has appeared in the last two Underdog Anthologies and it’s a really good one. Target is release by the end of the month (my visit to Wales in January has been postponed because of a reason) and it’s certainly possible.

On book promotions, I was sent a link by an early author, Justin Sanebridge, to a promoting site that sends out tweets, farcebok posts, Google+ posts (whatever they are) and more to advertise a book. They also have a free sample that sends it out once so you can try it.

The base 30-day plan costs just $14.99 (currently £10.80) to get it sent out twice a day for 30 days. At 50 cents a day that’s pretty cheap. I will send one book a month for this promotion. If I send them all at once I’ll have books competing with other books from the same publisher (me) and I want to see if it affects sales. If it makes $15 a month it’s a good one.

But hey, if anyone wants to use the free one-day thing to give their book a shot now, go for it. if you want to use the paid service yourself, tell me you did it so I’ll be able to link it to sales.

First one out is Justin Sanebridge’s ‘The Goddess of Protruding Ears’ because he found the site so that’s only fair. I have 30 days to decide whether to do the rest in order or at random. I might not add the anthologies because they are priced to the bone so they’d have trouble getting the initial stake back. They’d be bottom of the list anyway – the authors go first.

An advertising budget of $15 a month won’t break me. If it works, if it makes more than the stake, they have heavier-duty plans I could move up to. Advertising budget is tax deductible too.

Which reminds me, I have a chunky tax bill to pay this year. I don’t want to give money to people I know will use it to make my life a misery, I’d rather give it to a trembling street corner junkie who will only damage themselves, but they’ll come for me if I don’t.

First tax bill in years. I am sure I will be claiming a lot of it back next year though.



Glowing books – a disappointment

There is nothing I can do to affect the glow in the pages of the books.

The effect is more pronounced in the latest Underdog Anthology than in the other books but as comments on the earlier post said, it’s an effect caused by the whitening dyes used in the manufacture of the paper. Changing the colour of the glow is a non-starter unless I go back to ultimate basics and make my own paper. Even if I was mad enough to try that, a different colour glow would mean the paper wouldn’t look white.

I wondered if the enhanced effect in The Good, The Bad and Santa was due to the spine colour or something else I did to the cover but it could just be a different batch of paper. So maybe there is nothing I can do to affect it. I’ll play around with spine colours on later anthologies just in case though.

It’s a disappointment, it would have been fun to have different genre books defined with different colours of glowing spine but it can’t be helped.

Ah well, back to the tax form….  finding all the bits takes ages but having it all online at least means I’m not rummaging for bits of paper!



The Book that Glowed

Cade F.O.N Apollyon, one of the authors in the most recent Underdog Anthology, noticed something odd about the print version.

In a certain light, there is a blue glow along the spine of the book. Here’s a photo Cade took –

It’s odd, so I tried it with a copy here –

It works here too. I have no idea what causes it but I have to try to replicate it. I also have to see if it can be made to glow in different colours. A red glow would be particularly useful.

Have any of the authors noticed this phenomenon, or any other readers seen it? I’d like to hear about it if you have (or haven’t). I’d also be interested to hear from anyone who might have an explanation of why it happens with this particular book, especially if you know how I could make it happen and whether I can vary the colour.

In the meantime, I’m sure it’s perfectly normal and not at all weird. You won’t get sucked into the stories and none of the characters in the book can escape. Probably.

The eBook version is safe. It has no spine so nothing is glowing.

Although it might be possible to make it so… I feel a bit of experimentation is in order.

White Christmas

That phrase is probably banned now, along with the croony, depressing song that goes with it. These days we have to dream of a diverse multicultural pansexual Christmas in which Santa is a slim black sober antismoking transgender redistributor of presents. So if he visits and you have too many presents… well kids, you get a quick lesson in socialism. Oh, and paedophilia is being touted as a good thing now so when Santa says ‘keep quiet’, you keep quiet. For the sake of diversity.

All this crap has accelerated in this last year. As Alan says in ‘All the Strangers’, “What the Hell is coming next year?”

That line is from the new story, the one that’s in the latest book. I’m not putting it up yet. If I think of something new for Christmas day, I might not put it up at all. If I’m going to make a business of this I have to stop, or at least limit, giving stuff away for free

It’s officially rest time for Leg Iron Books. With a catalogue that went from zero to twenty books in the first year, I think I’ve earned a day off for Christmas. Okay, some of those books were my previous publications rebranded, two of which were novels that were out of contract with their previous publisher and are now out again with new covers and lower prices, but even so. It’s still a good start.

The last one for 2017 is ‘The Good, the Bad and Santa’ and I have now received print copies from Amazon. With help from CStM, they are now loaded into packaging and ready to send out to authors.

There was a reason I needed CStM’s help. I placed the order with Amazon – copies for the authors at two books per story, one for me of course, some to send out to family and friends to help get the word around… I ordered 36 copies in all. In one order.

I had 36 emails telling me the books were dispatched and 36 emails telling me they were out for delivery. I thought ‘Surely not?’

They arrived today. 36 books from a single order… in 36 separate packages. The Amazon delivery guy wasn’t even surprised. It’s apparently a common thing.

Well I have a lot of cardboard to burn now. Might as well get some heat out of it as I turn it back into the CO2 it was originally made from.

I wonder about the current hate directed at wood burning stoves. They don’t burn fossil fuels (my oil fired central heating does though), they burn recently-converted-from-CO2-to-wood fuel back into the CO2 it was made out of. Which is then used by other trees to make more wood. That’s about as sustainable as it gets. So why the hate?

Well, the cynic in me wonders whether there’s a bit of the old hatred of independence in there. Out here especially, I have endless wood supplies. The farmer has been renovating some of the very old buildings and has huge tonne bags of wood cut into easy-to-manage small pieces. He doesn’t want to keep it, it’s just in the way so the more of it I burn the less he has to pay to dispose of.

Some of the buildings in question have been unused for many years and are surrounded by trees that are also just in the way. They are also cut into easily managed chunks and stored in the barn. As long as I don’t try to burn the fresh ones (too wet) and use last year’s or older, that supply will go on for a long time too. I don’t, technically, need to split most of the chunks with a huge axe but it’s fun so I do it anyway.

Rather than all that old wood going into landfill, it heats my house for free and leaves ash that I can use (after I sieve out the nails) to add some friction to my driveway. At the moment that is very necessary since the whole place is currently surrounded by a treacherous sheet of ice. Even the dog holds it in until she is so desperate she’s willing to risk a frozen arse.

If wood burning stoves were banned I would be entirely reliant on oil deliveries or electricity for heating, both of which could be stopped at a moment’s notice and would then let this old guy freeze to death. They can’t cull me efficiently as long as I have an independent heat source. That’s why there’s no such thing in ‘For Whom the Bells Jingle’ – also in the Christmas anthology.

Tomorrow I will attempt to get to the post office to post all the author copies. On the main road, well the tarmac one at least, it’s not too bad. It’s just a matter of getting to the road without sliding onto it sideways and tipping over. That would be embarrassing. It would also piss me off enormously if I totalled a car that has just passed an MOT without even an advisory note attached.

Hopefully, the books will be on the way tomorrow and even more hopefully they will arrive in time for Christmas – at least the ones in the UK. Outside the UK, there’s pretty much no chance.

Twenty books. I can hardly believe it myself. I have offered my services to another small press who are struggling to keep up with publication. More on that in the New Year.

Well, I have to get the list of Leg Iron Books updated and get around to developing a website – or paying someone else to do it. Nothing more will happen on the books front in 2017 though. It’s holiday time at last.

Here is the Leg Iron Books current catalogue, in case you’re stuck for a Christmas present. There’s still time.

Underdog Anthologies:

The Underdog Anthology, volume 1
Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell
Treeskull Stories
The Good, the Bad, and Santa


Cultish (Hugo Stone) Now revised and at a lower price.
The Goddess of Protruding Ears (Justin Sanebridge)
Ransom (Mark Ellott)
The Mark (Margo Jackson)
Es-Tu là, Allah? (Dirk Vleugels: in French)
Jessica’s Trap (H K Hillman)
Samuel’s Girl (H K Hillman)

Short story collections:

Blackjack (Mark Ellott)
Sinistré : The Morning Cloud Chronicles (Mark Ellott)
Feesten onder de Drinkboom (Dirk Vleugels: in Dutch)
Fears of the Old and the New (H. K. Hillman)
Dark Thoughts and Demons (H. K. Hillman)
The Articles of Dume (H K Hillman)


Ghost Hunting for the Sensible Investigator (Romulus Crowe) first and second editions.


Han Snel (Dirk Vleugels: in Dutch)


Twenty books in a year. No wonder I’m knackered. Still, the challenge is clear. Twenty-one next year. I can do this thing. Others may feel satisfaction in moaning at protests while claiming benefits but my satisfaction is in taking on a challenge and beating it. Or if not beating it, knowing I gave it my best shot. Twenty-one books next year.

There will be another anthology around March/April, not specifically Easter themed. an ‘anything goes’ like the first one. One at Halloween and one at Christmas. That’s three.

I have a novel by Lee Bidgood for the new year, that’s four.

At least two of my own are very close to finishing edits. Six.

One more and I’m a third of the way there already. And it’s not even 2018 yet. Random House, watch out. Here comes Leg Iron Books.

But if it does get successful it won’t be based in Scotland. I’m not paying extra tax when I could move back to Wales and pay less.

Scotland is determined to push new businesses south. Fine with me, I don’t have a house to sell and this business can work anywhere. I expect the SNP (Spiteful Nannying Puritans) will work out why Scotland is turning into Venezuela one day, when pet haggises are roasting over fires fed by empty promises, but by then it will be far too late. I can’t find it in me to care any more.

Let it die. The Scots can’t be bothered fixing it so why should anyone else?

I like living here. It’s cold so I keep longer. I like this house I’m renting. But make it hard for me and I can just load up a truck and move out.

I’m not the only small business thinking this way.

The Good, the Bad, and Santa

I have succeeded, despite the best efforts of the Internet to bugger things up. Sections of the Kindle and Smashwords sites went down for maintenance while I was loading the book last night and I couldn’t stay up too late  because I had to be up early today.

My car is in for MOT, they have given me a little clown car to drive in the meantime with enough room inside for two medium sized humans or twenty clowns. The boot is almost big enough for a carrier bag. It’s a bit cramped but it’s just for today. I’ll have the proper car back tomorrow.

Anyway, the latest anthology is now live on Amazon in print and Kindle (the two listings will eventually merge) and I have ordered copies to send to the authors who opted for books rather than cash. It’s still possible they could arrive in time for Christmas (the UK ones at least).

For those who use non-Kindle formats, all sorts are available on Smashwords. These anthologies have not yet managed to get through Smashwords’ distribution system because of rules about multi-author books that are a pain in the arse to comply with. Now the book frenzy is over until Christmas I’ll take a look at getting those anthologies some further distribution.

Five books in six weeks was the goal and it’s done. It was knackering and it took up pretty much all my time but it’s done now. I will bask in smugness until after New Year when I will start it all over again.

Roobeedoo can take a rest too – I won’t bug her with editing requests before January 2nd. Probably.

Okay. Now I can get the railway set up and running. At last!