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.



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.

23-David and 81-Mohammed

On the first day of Christmas I took to bed with me
The Lord Montague of Beulieau

There’ll be more of that song but for now… here is a Christmas tale that’s not in any book anywhere. Raw first draft stuff. Needs a better title too…


23-David and 81-Mohammed

Be better

The wording, in lights under Santa’s frowning image on the shop window poster, burned into 23-David’s mind. He knew he could be better. He still didn’t truly believe and sometimes he was afraid it showed.

Today he had been allocated female bisexual by the gender randomiser on his alarm clock. Yet he knew that he was male and heterosexual and always had been. Try as he might, he could not accept the lie as others seemed to. He had dressed accordingly, of course, since to do otherwise would label him transphobic and invite a series of re-education sessions again.

23-David shuddered at the memory of his last re-education. It had been his own fault. He had failed to keep up with the latest terminology and had accidentally referred to a black woman as ‘she’ – without first checking her allocation of the day. She had been allocated Asian genderfluid and had chosen ‘la’ as her pronoun. The resulting complaint had put him on the naughty list for six weeks for racism as well as transphobia.

It’s made clear at the start of every visit to re-education that failing the classes is not an option. Failures are sent to the Farm. Nobody comes back from there. The class requires absolute concentration since they try to trick you at every stage. Getting through without making any mistakes at all is exhausting. Especially if you don’t really believe.

Making his way along the street, past the shoppers and the watchful eyes of those thought police dressed as Santas, 23-David wondered if he were the only one. Did everyone else believe? Were there no others who just put on a front, an outer shell to hide from the ever-vigilant Offended?

Whatever, he had no wish to have another session of re-education. Every time there was that chance of failure, the risk his mask might slip and he’d be sent to the Farm. Many he knew had gone there, so it was indeed possible he was the last. Maybe they had weeded out all those who could not accept the Word of the Offended and live with all the contradictions and false truths of this new world.

Distracted by his thoughts, he felt someone barge into him.

“Sorry. I hope I haven’t offended you?” The voice was familiar.

23-David looked into the face of a man. “Oh no, I should apologise,” he said. “I wasn’t paying proper attention.” He knew this man, he was sure, but couldn’t place him.

“Neither was I. Lost in my own thoughts. Like you, eh?” The man grinned and winked. “It’s 23-David, isn’t it? You buy your newspapers in my shop every morning. I keep a copy of ‘Green Future’ with your name on it every day.”

Ah of course. The newsagent. They had exchanged small talk but he had never thought to ask the man’s name. When even gender was fraught with risks, asking for names seemed intrusive.
“81-Mohammed.” The man held out his hand.

23-David shook it before he realised what he was doing. This archaic greeting had been banned as elitist long ago, a symbol of White Supremacy and here he was doing it on the street. 81-Mohammed seemed not to mind, but then he wasn’t white. Besides, he was raised in Creche 81, a high ranking raising station. He could probably get away with a lot more than someone from Creche 23.

“I should be on my way.” 23-David put his hands in his pockets to avoid any further accidental physical contact. The collision might be considered assault and the handshake would be enough to get him back into re-education, if anyone had seen it.

“Oh, surely you have time for a coffee?” 81-Mohammed smiled again. “Earth Day isn’t until tomorrow. We’ve never had a proper chat, and I know just the place for a good coffee and conversation.”

23-David considered for a moment. Refusing an invitation should be easy, but this was an invitation from an 81, a superior in this world of equality and from a Mohammed too. They might still go for an Islamophobia arrest, even though religion had been eradicated long ago apart from the Green God which was settled science and not to be called religion.

So many lies. So many contradictions. I can’t be the only one who sees it!

“Okay.” 23-David kept his face expressionless. “A coffee sounds good.”

“Excellent.” 81-Mohammed patted 23-David’s shoulder.

Another assault. How does he get away with it?

“Is it far? To the coffee shop, I mean?” 23-David fell into step beside 81-Mohammed. A thought struck him.

I hope he doesn’t want sex. I might be dressed as a woman but I’m not one. I don’t have the proper equipment.

“Not far at all. In fact, it’s just through that door over there.” 81-Mohammed winked. “And don’t worry. I know what’s in your knickers and it doesn’t interest me.”

“I didn’t—”

“Yes you did. It’s perfectly normal to be concerned when you’re assigned female and strange men invite you to strange places.”

“Well…” 23-David looked where 81-Mohammed had pointed. There was indeed a door, a nondescript door set into a windowless wall at the side of a building. “That’s a coffee shop?”

“The best in town. It has no need to advertise and we don’t invite just anyone in there.”

“So why invite me?”

81-Mohammed winked again. “As I said, you’re like me. You’ll fit in there, you’ll be among friends. Like-minded people.” He set off across the street.

23-David followed, making a mental list of questions he needed to ask before the conversation began, so he could avoid any accidental offence and thereby avoid another re-education session.

81-Mohammed opened the door and let 23-David enter first. “Ladies first,” he said with a chuckle.

Inside, several people sat at tables with coffee mugs in front of them. Most looked up as they entered, a few sniggered, the others looked warily at 23-David and then raised questioning eyebrows at 81-Mohammed.

“A new friend,” 81-Mohammed spoke to the room after closing the door. “This is 23-David. He does not accept the lies.”

“What?” 23-David spun to face his accuser. “Is this some kind of trap? I don’t want to go to re-education again.”

“Relax. It’s no trap.” 81-Mohammed led 23-David to a table. “Sit, we’ll get something to drink and talk. There’s no re-education here, only the truth. No doublethink, no contradictions and no blame. Most of all, no cameras or microphones and nobody this side of the door ever gets offended by trivial crap,”

23-David sat, his head reeling. This had to be entrapment. He had been in re-education three times and the next one was sure to be the Farm. They must have been watching him closely, looking for one slip, one mistake. The handshake had clinched it. They knew he wasn’t one of them, they knew he hadn’t fully bought in to the reality they wanted to impose. Resigned to his fate, he watched 81-Mohammed order drinks, he watched the waiter bring them, he looked down into coffee that was cold and strangely frothed, he lifted it and sipped and was brought suddenly back to his senses.
“What the hell? This isn’t coffee.”

The room exploded into laughter. 81-Mohammed wiped tears from his eyes as he struggled to compose himself. “It’s called beer, Dave. It’s not a strong one since it’s your first.”

“Alcohol?” 23-David leaned back in his chair and stared at the mug as if it contained poison. “You’re trying to give me cancer?”

“Another lie, Dave. You have to drink a hell of a lot more than this, and stronger stuff than beer, before you have any risk of cancer.” 81-Mohammed took a deep drink of his own beer.

Someone called from another table. “Hey Mo, better not take the girlie-man to the smoke room today. He’ll break out in lumps before your eyes.”

23-David’s eyes widened.

“Don’t panic. You might not like smoking anyway. I don’t, but others do. And that, in here, Dave, is just fine.” 81-Mohammed put his mug down and looked at 23-David with a serious expression. “This is an oasis of sanity in this mad world. In here you can be David or Dave. I can be Mohammed or Mo. No need for numbers, no rank, no superiority. We don’t arrest you for having an opinion and we don’t pretend that words are violence.” He sighed and leaned back to stare at the ceiling. “Although with the next generation, that will change. They will eradicate gender and names.”

“No more gender sounds like a good thing. I can go back to being the straight man I really am.”
23-David pursed his lips. “But without names, who will we be?”

81-Mohammed stared into his eyes. “You assumed I was Muslim because of my name. You worried about getting arrested for Islamophobia. Didn’t you?”

23-David felt his cheeks warm. “Well I…”

“Your name is David. Are you Jewish?”

23-David coughed. “No, but…”

“See how it works? They assigned the names in the creche and used them to divide us but they don’t need that any more. We have creche numbers now and those have become equated to some kind of ranking system. They have destroyed the family and gender, they can now just give us numbers instead of names and the numbers denote rank.”

“They can’t destroy gender. We’re born with it.” 23-David looked into his beer. That first taste came back to him and something inside wanted to taste it again.

“Yes they can and they will. With popular support. You said it yourself. It sounds like a good thing. Everyone out there is really like us inside, Dave. They are living lies but they have to because they’ll get re-educated if they don’t. Everyone is scared. Everyone has to think before they speak. Everyone is sick of being assigned a gender in the morning and having to pretend all day. Born with no gender? They will welcome it.”

“Everyone?” 23-David’s mind struggled to comprehend.

“Yes.” 81-Mohammed nodded to someone behind 23-David. “There’s someone you need to meet now. Her name is Dawn and her appearance will shock you. Try to control your emotions.”

23-David snorted. “I’ve done that my whole life”

“You’ll need to keep doing that for the rest of it.” 81-Mohammed’s face softened. “It’s going to be harder after you’ve been here.”

“And if you fail,” the querulous voice from behind 23-David said, “we will kill you before they do.”
23-David turned and faced a woman in a chair on wheels. A thin, frail woman, with skin so wrinkled he found it hard to discern her features, although clear eyes stared at him from within the folds.
Nobody here could be that old, not since the abolition of the pension and the New Retirement that sent the aged away to live in Pensionville. 23-David closed his eyes. His mind, overwhelmed, shut down. ‘Catch him, he’s falling’ was the last thing he heard.

Something slapped his face. Something cold and wet entered his mouth. He swallowed. His face took another slap, a gentle one, a brush, not painful. 23-David opened his eyes.

81-Mohammed held a mug of beer to his mouth, his face full of concern. “You’re okay. I thought you had gone completely. A few do, you know. Some can’t take the shock.”

“The woman. So old.” 23-David struggled for words.

“Yes, I am old. You’ll never be if you stay in that world. You know what they do when you’re too old to be productive?” The woman was out of 23-David’s sight but her voice was unmistakable.

“We… we go to Pensionville.”

“No, you go to the power stations as fuel. They don’t even bother to kill you before they throw you in.”

23-David gasped. “That’s…”

“Inhuman? Isn’t everything else these days?”

“Dawn, take it slow. He’s only just coming out of shock.” 81-Mohammed put his hand on 23-David’s forehead.

“There’s no time for slow. We’ll have to get out of the city soon. We won’t be able to hide here much longer. Is he with us or not?”

“It’s a lot for him to take in.” 81-Mohammed said. “Give him time to come to terms with it. I’ve spoken to him often in my shop. I know he’s one of us, he just doesn’t believe it yet. If we send him back he’ll slip up and they’ll Farm him.”

“At least our way is quicker.” The old woman ended with a snort.

“With who?” 23-David sat up, now fully awake. “I don’t know who you are. What are your preferred gender pronouns?”

His question was answered with another burst of laughter.

“The real ones. Male or female or trans or gay, we are all ‘he’ or ‘she’ and nobody gets offended.” 81-Mohammed said. “I know that’s how you feel too, Dave. I know you can’t take the lies any more. I know they will catch you out one day and send you to the Farm. Join us, it’s a hard life but at least it’s a real one.”

“Who are you?” 23-David asked again. “Will this get me sent to the Farm?”

The old woman wheeled into his line of sight.

“My name is Dawn,” she said. “I have no creche number because I had a mother and a father. I was raised in a family. You won’t understand that yet, the concept of family is gone for you. For the next generation, the concept of gender and even of names will be gone too. They will accept it, as you accept being raised in a creche, because they will know nothing else. They will be worker drones, like bees.”

Her eyes turned down. “I had a daughter too. The real, family way. They took her on Earth Day. The bells jingled for her.”

Send not to ask for whom the bells jingle. They jingle for thee. 23-David remembered the tales of Santa and his list. The stern Santa face on the shop sign came back into his mind’s eye.

Dawn sighed. “It will be all too easy. Names have been designed to draw assumptions, as you assumed Mo was Islamic and your name assumes you are Jewish. So getting rid of names is a Good Thing. Gender fluidity has become so much of a chore that deleting gender will be welcomed. You’d welcome it yourself, right?”

“Well yes, if it means going back to normality.”

“There is no way back to normality.” 81-Mohammed raised his hands. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap. We have no choice but to get out of here and find a new home. Dawn is right. It’s only going to get worse here.”

“It can’t be fixed?” 23-David looked from Dawn to 81-Mohammed.

“We have tried.” Dawn sighed. “For many years. We’ve stopped trying now. Let them stew in the gravy they have poured on themselves, let them live their lies. We’re out.”

“Where will we go? And when?” 23-David blinked at his own words. In using ‘we’, he had accepted this new life. He noticed the smiles and the look between Dawn and 81-Mohammed.

“I mean,” he said, “Do I have time to change into proper straight white male clothes?”

Whiter Christmas

That last post got me thinking. And a line or two popped into my head. I haven’t corrupted a popular song for a long time now and well, it’s Christmas. The 20th book of my first year as a publisher is done and I risked life, limb and whisky to slide my car down the drive and post the author copies. of the anthology. Basically, I have done all the publishing for this year and it’s time for a real break.

I like to picture Bing singing this but he might have had reservations. Still, let’s face it, the original song was pretty crap really. Two verses repeated and that was it. Status Quo had more chords than that.

I’d love to see someone croon this in a capitalist-produced Antifa T-shirt. Capitalists love you, Antifa. You buy any old shit we produce. Keep daddy’s money coming, dupes. We’ll smile as we take it.

So anyway. Twitter are going to have a Kruschev-style purge of undesirables on Monday and I’ve just checked in a mirror and confirmed my undesirability. I’m white and male and straight with no gender questioning whatsoever. I am not a feminist because I believe you have to be female as a first qualification for that. I care nothing for religion and that includes Islam, the religion of making people eight inches shorter and of experiments such as determining whether being gay makes you immune to gravity and the genetic combination of rocks and rape victims.

I am not owlkin or badgerkin or shitehawkkin, I am simply almost-human. I do not like the EU but I am not anti-foreigner (stranger in a strange land myself, as it goes).

Therefore I am universally despised and I am fine with that. I’ll let you know if I ever start to care. You want me to be evil and demonic. Yeah, I can do that. You’ll be surprised, and soon, at just how evil and demonic we White Walkers can be when we’re pushed too far.

When Twitter have their purge, I have two other accounts there that won’t last long. I am also Underdog on Maybe they are considering not purging me.

Twitter has issued a challenge. Can I push them into banning me? Let’s see if racist Christmas can finish the job.

White Christmas

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
From times when IQ’s weren’t so low
Dim minds take it all in and idiots listen
Cause you can’t see racists in the snow

I’m dreaming of a wide Christmas
With every Christmas pie I bite
May your waistline stretch really tight
And may buttons fly into the night

I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas
With rain and cloud instead of snow
All the global warming can’t stop ice from forming
It’s all fake science, yes we know

I’m dreaming of a white Privilege
When immigration rates were low
When the lives of homeless and poor.
Were the stuff of Privilege that’s only white.

Merry Saturnalia to one and all.

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!


Beating a deadline? Me?

Author contracts went out yesterday and all but two are already back. I need those in place before publication since I have to have proof that I have the author’s permission to use their story/stories.

I’ve also sent a PDF of the interior to all authors so they can check it looks the way they want it to look. That’s how it will print so any glitches need to be removed now. Minor changes are easy.

The print book is the one that needs to be ready fast. It takes time to get them delivered even if you have Amazon Prime. The eBooks you can download anytime, even on Christmas morning – but they will be available long before then. Kindle takes a couple of days to make the product available and it would be a damn shame if it came out on Boxing Day.

Most of the work is now with the authors so I have time to work on a back cover. Writing the back cover is harder than writing a book – you have just a tiny space to work in. It has to be fast and snappy.

There is time still to restart that back cover entirely from scratch – the deadline I set for the 14th is still four days away and really, most of it is ready to load up now. It’s likely to be a day or more ahead of that deadline – and that’s something new for me! I usually trim the final minutes of deadlines or quietly pretend I didn’t set one  😉

Here is the back cover so far. Every single aspect is open to change. Or it might all stay like that. It’s nearly 2 am now and I don’t care. I’ll look at it again tomorrow.

The space bottom right is where the barcode panel goes. The wide margin on the right is because I went a bit too far left so I might need to shift the image over when loading the cover. Or I could scrap the whole thing and start again. That’s a viable option.

Still, this one will definitely make or even beat the deadline, as long as nothing goes horribly wrong.

I have to try to make a habit of that…


Update – I couldn’t leave it like that. It looked shit. Second try…

Another update:

I’ll go with this one. The original looks better than this reduced size file but the original is a very big file.

I’m now waiting for one last author contract (I know, it’s only been two days) and everyone’s approval or changes on the PDF of the interior and it can go to print. The eBook versions will be very close behind. That Thursday deadline is looking easy now.