Finally, I have books

I met my deadline for ‘Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell’ but have been thwarted by delays at every turn. Usually when a book goes up on Amazon, I order it straight away and get it within days. Yes, I order a copy of every book I publish. It’s to check it prints okay. Also I send novel authors some free copies for bragging rights.

For this second anthology, all the authors elected to be paid in copies of the book. I ordered quite a lot and about ten days after that order, they are finally here. The author copies are now bundled up ready to post.

Smashwords are still finding problems with it so it’s not on Barnes and Noble etc yet. I think I might try doing that through instead. The latest is that they want all the author names on the cover and all in the description (which has a character limit) and then I have to email them so they can fiddle it into shape. They have a new system for anthologies which isn’t ready to use but they’re using it anyway. Perhaps I won’t bother with Smashwords for anthologies in future. Lulu doesn’t have the same reach but it gets into the most important places.

At least the Kindle version went through without a hitch.

There’s no problem with single-author books. Those go through right away. It’s just anthologies that seem to be a problem. With that in mind, I’ll close submissions for the Halloween anthology on 30th September so I can have it all in place and ready to advertise in time for Halloween. That still leaves time to think up stories.

In progress, and coming soon, are :

Han Snel, by Dirk Vleugels. A biography of a Dutch artist, in Dutch, which needs to be in colour. It’s going to be an expensive and somewhat niche book but it’s going ahead anyway. Maybe it’ll become famous one day, you never know.

Blackjack, by Mark Ellott. A collection of short stories of varying genre. Something for everyone.

The Mark, by Margo Jackson. An innocent man assailed by modern prejudices and ingrained ideologies lurches from one misinterpreted situation to another. Is he really innocent though? You have to decide for yourself.

Okay, back to work for me. On Tuesday I have to go to Inverness about microbiology stuff (no, I’m not sampling monster shit) so there is a lot to get done before then.

As well as complying with Smashwords’ new anthology rules without actually having any clear idea what they are…

Everything happens at once…

Finally, Amazon have dispatched my order of ‘Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell’. Admittedly it was a large order: all the authors elected to be paid in books so I had to get a load in. I’ll have them Saturday and post them next week.

Smashwords keep asking for amendments to the ebook on their site, before they release it to other sellers. Damn. This hasn’t happened with any of the other books, only the one that was in before the deadline. It’ll get sorted out eventually.

Current projects are a biography of Han Snel, a Dutch painter, by Dirk Vleugels, Longrider’s short story collection ‘Blackjack’ and hopefully a novel that was sent in before Christmas. Margo, if you’re reading, I’ve sent email. I can’t progress that one without your agreement.

As for me, I’ve had the writing urge again. Writing until daylight returns – I shouldn’t do that too often, it’s knackering. Victor’s Will has made a lot of progress this past week. It’ll need heavy editing because there have been long dormant periods between writing sessions.

In May thee are local council elections here. I have taken great delight in putting the pamphlets through the shredder and watching the smug little faces turned into confetti. I’ll have to find the least bad one to vote for.

Then it turns out, I have to do it again in June because Tessie May, the Prime Monster, has called a very short notice general election. Why? Well, here’s the most plausible reason

The end of the likely tortuous Article 50 negotiations is a hard deadline set for March 2019.

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, that’s when the Tories would be starting to prepare for a general election the following year, with what one cabinet minister described as certain “political needs”.

In other words, the government would be exposed to hardball from the EU because ministers would be desperate to avoid accepting anything that would be politically unpopular, or hold the Brexit process up, at the start of a crucial election cycle.

Finalising negotiations with an opponent who knows you’re vulnerable would be a very bad move. The EU could pressurise the UK government into accepting watered-down agreements so they don’t spook the public and risk getting wiped out in an election the following year. Putting the next election a few years behind the end of Brexit gives them a chance to show their policies can work before they go to the polls again.

There’s more to it. Plaid Cymru claim that a lot of Welsh Labour MPs are vulnerable to losing their seats to Plaid. If true, this election would give Labour a right kick in the nads and even if the Tories don’t increase their numbers, having the main opposition party reduced would make things easier for them.

It’s possible. Labour voters in Wales aren’t likely to vote Tory, ever, but they are quite likely to switch to Plaid Cymru.

Tessie isn’t going to go for TV debates. The childish ’empty chair’ gambit has been rolled out by the other parties once more. They really think an empty chair is a major scorecard victory for them. It’s playground politics – but there’s a lot of that about now.

Meanwhile, north of Hadrian’s Wall, little Nicky the Fish claims the SNP are the only party who can stop a hardline Tory government. Well I’m not voting for you, Nicky. Not until your party learns to act like a government rather than a bunch of handwringing nannying fussbuckets. We vote for politicians to run the country, not to tell us how we have to live. We do not become your property when you take office.

This is a big claim for a little woman. The Tory presence in Scotland is minimal already and they are hardly likely to form the next Scottish Assembly. It would be hilarious if they did though. The wailing would be heard in Canberra.

The SNP presence in Wastemonster is similarly trivial. They are not going to be making a big impact there any time soon. No, Fishwife, you won’t be stopping anyone anywhere – except stopping people in Scotland enjoying themselves. It’s what you do best, after all.

Timmy Farron, the Liberal Democrat, also thinks his party is the only one who can stop the Tories. There aren’t many left in Timmy’s gang and there might be even fewer in June.

Tessie has gambled on winning this election and getting a bigger majority. She’s in with a chance but it’s still down to chance. The short timescale will make it harder for the fake votes to build up but it also doesn’t give much time for any party to put their case to the electorate.

I hope she wins it, and comes out with a huge majority. Not because I’m a Tory supporter – I’m a nobody supporter – but because it would be nice to have a government that can actually make a decision for once. And because it would make our stance in Brexit negotiations so much stronger.

Brexit is happening. It can’t be stopped. We need to get a good deal on the way out and a weak government will get shat on by the smarmy bastards in the EU parliament. We need a strong government at this time, no matter who it is, and a government that recognises that the people voted for Brexit and we will damn well have it. No matter what the whiners say.

It’s going to be an entertaining few weeks.

The Hollow Bunnies are coming

The eBook versions are now available. The Kindle book had some typos so there’s an updated version in the works. It’s uploaded and should be available soon. The one on Smashwords is the up to date version, and the print book had all the corrections in place before submission. I can fix errors in eBooks just by uploading a new interior but once it’s printed, it’s fixed. So the print book was the one that had to be right first time.

The print version has to be reviewed before release. That’s simply to check it will print correctly. Hopefully it will be done by tomorrow. It’s a little shorter (and therefore a little cheaper) than the first one.

Okay, I think I can take a couple of days off now and then go for some easy ones – as in, ones I don’t have to write anything for.

Now it’s time for a rest. And a drink…


The second Underdog Anthology is ready to roll. I expect to load it up tomorrow, once I’m certain the formatting is all correct. Here’s a contents list –


Mark Ellott 
Myffanwy and the Egg
Easter 1916
Morning Cloud and the Spanish Angels
Death and the Life Heareafter

Stephen W. Duffy     
Changed Upon the Blue Guitar
Doth Close Behind Him Tread

Roo B Doo
Morning Run
The Inchoate Egg

Justin Sunshine
The Journey Chosen

H K Hillman
The Night of the Hollow Bunnies



153 pages this time. All the stories are Easter themed, with the usual mix of genres. Just the one story from me, although it does occupy 20 pages of the book and features Dr. Dume, one of the Blackthorn family and Romulus Crowe. It was a tough one to write, they all had their own ideas about where the story should go.

The order is simply the order in which the stories arrived. I’m last because I was the one holding things up – that story was torn from my very soul, word by word.

Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell is finished. Next up is a biography of a Dutch artist and a novel. The biography shouldn’t take too much time. You can’t really edit a true story.

The next Underdog Anthology will be Halloween, and this year it will be ready on time. I’m getting the hang of this…


Normal service will resume soon.

Teaser time 🙂


The contents page for the second Underdog Anthology, ‘Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell’…


Mark Ellott
Myffanwy and the Egg
Easter 1916
Morning Cloud and the Spanish Angels
Death and the Life Heareafter

Stephen W. Duffy
Changed upon the Blue Guitar
Doth Close Behind Him Tread

Roo B Doo
Morning Run
The Inchoate Egg

Justin Sunshine
The Journey Chosen

H K Hillman
The Night of the Hollow Bunnies


A couple of last minute entries in there but they don’t need much editing. I’ll have full access to my office (and email) again on Thursday and that will be the Big Push to the finish line. Not as dramatic as it sounds, really. I have most of the book in format and assembled, I just need to get the authors to quickly check for blunders in formatting. The book will be out in time to get it for Easter.

Father is recovering well, and will soon be back to his normal determined curmudgeonly self. They leave on Thursday so he has no time to rebuild dry stone walls outside or try to paint the 10-foot-high walls in the other rooms. I already decorated the room they’re in so he wouldn’t be tempted.

He did a fantastic job on the greenhouse, and if he’d still been fifty I think the house would have had a full internal remodelling job by now.

Anyway, the book. No more Easter stories please, there’s no time to fit in any more. Start thiking up Halloween shorts. If there are enough summer themed ideas I’d do a summer anthology but I might not be in it. Summer horror is a tough one.

Since I have email restrictions while I have visitors, I’ll put some minor contact points here.

Stephen, I need an ‘about the author’ bit from you. It can be a couple of lines or a full page and it doesn’t have to be true 😉

Justin, I’ve edited your story (didn’t need much work, as usual) and the edited version along with the author contract will come back to you by the weekend.

Roobee, likewise, your second story will be edited within 24 hours and the author contract is heading your way.

I think I have to set up a backup office in one of the other rooms. It’s nice to be visited but being separated from the main machine is restrictive. I need to set up a mirror machine.

Still, I got most of the book work done before the visit so it’s not a big deal.

Okay, better get back to it.

The Big Day

Well here it is. The Big Day.

Parents are coming to visit and the guest room is all painted and looking quite good, if I say so myself. I do say so myself, if anyone was thinking of asking. There’s a lot of tidying to do tomorrow but there’s no wet paint or varnish anywhere. I haven’t yet put the pelmet back up but that’s not critical. Curtains don’t depend on it any more.

Also, the second Underdog Anthology is assembled and formatted, and covers are made. Author contracts are in.I’m holding off for a few days because there could be a couple more stories to come in. That’s okay, Easter starts on the 14th April (Good Friday) and I need the book available a week before. So it must go to print by the 6th at the latest. That gives a week of leeway on the deadline.

Don’t start writing for this one now. I have to have the last stories in before the 6th for a quick edit and format, and the ones already potentially on the way are all I can handle in that time. Think Halloween, if you’re planning to write a short story.

There was something else. What was it? Oh yeah, Brexit.

Tessie Maybe has finally made the decision. She wrote a note to the boss of the EU along the lines of ‘Oi, Tusky, we’re outta here, innit? Get awa’ tae buggery, ya wee shite.’ It’s a good thing I’m not Prime Monster. I would have written exactly those words.

Still, it is finally happening. Parents are visiting. The book will be out in time for Easter. We are getting out of the EU.

All on the same day.

As this week also includes my son’s birthday and mine, don’t be too surprised if it gets a bit quiet here for a week…

No time for Internet today

Deadlines approach. Getting the guest room ready for my parents’ visit and getting the book out at the end of March. Ideally before next Wednesday, when they visit. Or at least, have it primed and ready to send by then. I can do the last few stages while they sleep, I’ve had plenty of practice now.

There is a very real danger that I will meet two deadlines in the same month. This is not something you should expect to see very often. Halley’s Comet is more frequent an event than this.

There is also gardening. There is a lot of garden and it’s all starting to grow. Since the weather is currently fine, and since the garden was neglected for at least a year or possibly more, I have to keep it under control.

If a small garden goes wild it can take a few days to put it right. If this one goes wild, well, might as well get used to living in a jungle because I’d have no chance!

The landlord took pity on me and sent in professional gardeners for two days of brutal slash-and-burn gardening to get me started. They did a grand job of weed clearance and hacking back trees, but they hacked back some a lot further than I would have.

They absolutely butchered an old holly tree. While out tidying up that part of the garden I noticed something they had uncovered. Embedded in the tree is a large deer antler – it’s been there so long the tree has grown around it and it’s not going to move now. On the antler is a skull.

Now I know nobody is going to believe me but I honestly didn’t do that. It was already here. One of the points of the large antler has been hacked off, I assume the gardeners thought they were pruning a branch because it’s coated with green algae. The horns of the skull have suffered similar chainsaw damage but it’s otherwise intact.

They left it in place. I plan to leave it alone too. Apart from taking a few photos. This is a ready-made anthology cover for a later one, and a garden ornament I would have put up anyway if it wasn’t already there.

It might go some way to explaining the mystery of the room that had gouges in the walls and three locks on the outside of the door but I would probably be best not to delve too deeply into that.

There are other, um, Interesting Things to be seen in the garden. More on those later.

I just hope the holly tree recovers. It was a particularly impressive one.

Anyway. I have to put out author contracts and ‘about the author’ pages (if you haven’t sent me one and you have something specific you want in it, let me know). There is still time for one more story, if you have an Easter idea, but the whole thing must be assembled and finalised by next Wednesday so don’t hang around! I’ll have to be sociable for a week, no matter the toll it takes.

I will soon be looking for an illustrator. I can’t pay much yet, but I think some illustrations would be a Good Thing To Have in some books. There’s no time to do it for this anthology but it would be fun, in a future one, to have the stories all set up in time for an illustrator to put a picture to each story.

Maybe Halloween. The Tree Skull Anthology could be a working title.