Saturday, 29 December 2012

Seasonal Drabbles

For the last few months I've been writing drabbles in my spare time. A drabble is a story which is exactly 100 words long, excluding the title. The stories have been posted on the kindleusersforum and subsequently used on the Indie Book Bargains site.

I thought I'd share a couple of my seasonal efforts.

Peace on Earth, good will to all trees

The big fir stood tall, watching over his siblings; mere saplings really. Heaven.

Then the men with chainsaws arrived; cutting a swathe though the forest. Soon it was his turn. The harsh metal teeth ripped into his bark. They tore through his trunk. He fell; felled. He screamed silently for his mother; Mother Nature.

He was tossed unceremoniously onto a truck with other fallen comrades.


Then he was standing again, but the sky was gone. No wind. No friends. His roots amputated. Glittery foreign objects weighed heavy on his branches. This was hell on earth.

“Please let me die.”

Not just for Christmas

He dropped the puppy and a big stone into the sack.

“You said you’d look after him. I’m off to the canal.”

Sarah wailed and pleaded, but he was gone.

He parked just around the corner and opened the bag.

“Sorry pup, but she has to learn.”

The puppy bit him and escaped.

No-one believed his story. He was jailed for animal cruelty once the Tetanus had healed. Sarah never forgave him. At fifteen she left home, got herself pregnant and developed a chronic alcohol problem.

And the puppy? He bought some boots, ran off to London and became mayor.

And I got a badge for my efforts!

Indie Book Bargains Drabblist

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

nobooko - a new place to hang out

I still think that the Kindle is the eReader of choice for an awful lot of people, particularly here in the UK. That's why my favourite forum at the moment is the KindleUsersForum (KUF). It is one of the friendliest places on the net for authors and readers alike. The only problem is that you can spend all day there if you're not careful.

And things might be about to get a whole lot worse! With the popularity of the Nook and Kobo rising, a sister forum of KUF is emerging.

The nobooko forum is new and it looks great. It does, however give me a couple of new problems... I need to buy some more technology and I need to get by books onto these exciting new platforms.

Maybe I'll stop going to bed, who needs sleep anyway?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

I've been tagged... I'm 'it'.

Last week Michael Brookes tagged me in a post on his CultofMe blog. Please have a look at it… it's a really interesting place!

What does being tagged mean? Well, put simply, I answer the same questions he did, but mine are about my latest book. I also tag three more authors and they'll post their answers in a week's time. Here are the authors I'm tagging, they're all worth checking out.
Paul Vincent
Kate Aaron
Charlotte Henley Babb 
A big 'thank you' to Michael for tagging me... it gives me a neat excuse to talk about me and my latest book! Here we go…

What is the title of your latest book?

My new book is called The Black Conspiracy. It’s a funny, contemporary fantasy which is the sequel to Dark Tidings. Both books help answer the question ‘what happens when ancient magic meets the Internet?’

Where did the idea come from for the book?

As I said, The Black Conspiracy is the Dark Tidings sequel. t begins exactly where Dark Tidings left off and follows the same three heroes as they try and repair the damage they've done to civilisation.

What genre does your book fall under?

Humorous contemporary fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’d cast Ed Westwick as Michael, the technology whizz kid. Mitchel Musso would make a fantastic Tung, the inept thief with a heart of gold (the gold was probably stolen). Johnny Depp would be Madrick, the rather eccentric, disgraced wizard. Jennifer Lawrence would be Faith, Michael’s love interest... and interesting she is!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ancient magic has infected the Internet... is this the end for civilisation? 

Is your book self-published?

No. Both my books are with an Independent UK publisher called Ragged Cover Publishing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Once I had the plot storyboarded, the first draft took about three months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

One reviewer described the book as a cross between Terry Pratchett and Dan Brown. I’m more than happy with that description.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

It probably makes more sense to say what started me writing, many years ago. I put it down to playing early computer adventure games combined with reading Terry Pratchett’s first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic. I got a taste for fantasy, humour, magic and wizards, I just wish I had finished Dark Tidings sooner… before JK Rowling stole my limelight!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

As well as giving the reader a laugh while the world comes to an end, The Black Conspiracy explains global warming and why the rich are getting richer while the ordinary man gets poorer. What more could you ask from a book.

For a bit more information, please have a look at my Author Page.

Friday, 31 August 2012

The Black Conspiracy

The Dark Tidings sequel has been published. It's been a lot of hard work, but I think it was well worth it. It's called The Black Conspiracy and it follows on from where Dark Tidings left off. Civilisation is broken and it needs some urgent attention if it's going to survive the impending catastrophe. Here's a little bit more about The Black Conspiracy... it's available now for the Kindle.

Ancient magic has infected the Internet… is this the end for civilisation? link link

Previously - Ancient magic has transported Tung, a young thief, and Madrick, a has-been wizard, across a millennium. The powerful magic they brought with them was unwittingly spread over the Internet by Michael, a hacker whose good intentions far outstripped his common sense.

Problem - Civilisation simply can’t handle the unforeseen consequences of the magic and the only people who can prevent the ensuing catastrophe are the same three who created the mess in the first place.

Now - To make matters even worse, evil wizards have followed Tung and Madrick through time. They’re determined to hunt down and destroy the pair, and with them, our modern way of life. Saving the world has just got a whole lot harder.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

50 word Beer Bet

A few months ago, I had a bet with a friend... who can write a better story in exactly 50 words (the title doesn't add to the word count). But how on earth would we judge the winner? Easy, we asked members on a couple of forums to vote.

Here are the two stories...


I’d heard that, given typewriters and enough time, monkeys would eventually produce Hamlet... verbatim.

To prove it, I got a government grant and twenty thousand monkeys.

After nineteen years, one did it, but with ‘Help Me’ as the title. Close, but I’ll keep trying until one gets it totally right.


I leave this.

Life brought me here and here will take my life.

They follow a procedure that allows two elements of choice. A last meal. Any last words on earth. I’ve declined both. No appetite or desire to perform.

These words will do.

I’m sorry. I’m paying my dues.

They are very different types of story, but the members accepted the challenge and voted! My story was THE INFINITE MONKEY THEOREM... it lost! My friend got his beer, but I enjoyed the experience.

PS Comments left here in the form of votes may be taken into account... if they vote for me!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

10 Reasons to buy a book

It is not easy for an author to know what will make his or her book a bestseller. The hope is that it will mainly be down to the fantastically well written story, the thrilling plot and the marvellous characters. Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than that.

While I was wandering through various posts, forums and blogs, I collected a selection of reasons why readers buy books. I thought it would be interesting to place ten of them in a poll and see which one came out on top. I reckoned it would be a great help to authors, and me, if they could check if they hit the spot with their respective books.

The polls ran on a UK forum and on one which is mainly inhabited by American readers. Here are the results of the poll. Interestingly, the top four points in the UK and US are the same, albeit in a slightly different order

   US                                       UK
 Blurb                                                Read others by the author
 Genre                                               Blurb
 Read others by the author      Recommendations
 Recommendations                     Genre
 Cover design                                 First few paragraphs
 Price                                                 Price not included in poll
 Independent reviews                 Forum buzz
 First few paragraphs                  Independent reviews
 Title                                                  Cover design
 Forum buzz                                    Title
 Advertising                                    Advertising

There are a number of points worth noting, for example, Cover Design seems to be more important in the US. Also, readers don't rate advertising and title turned out to be a lot less important than i had imagined.

What do you think?

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Six word stories

In a previous post I extolled the virtues of conciseness. That was a 50 word story. The question is, how short can you make a story, for example, is it possible to have a six word story? Well, maybe not a story as such, but it is possible to evoke a lot of thought with only six words... and some very famous writers have done it. Here are a few examples:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Ernest Hemingway
Longed for him. Got him. Sh*t. Margaret Atwood
The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly. Orson Scott Card
Kirby had never eaten toes before. Kevin Smith
Steve ignores editor's word limit and... Steven Meretzky
Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time Alan Moore
Every one of them makes you think... you make up the story in your head. I think it’s magical. But could the ordinary man or woman in the street do it? Of course they could. I started a post on the KINDLERS CRAFTING, HOBBIES AND GENERAL INTEREST FORUM and invited folk there to post their stories. Here are a few brilliant examples:
Joined a craft forum... made friends. Ken.
I Came, I Saw, I Conquered. Julius Caesar (Submitted by Maria - and to be fair Julius actually said ‘Veni, vidi, vici.’ which would have been disqualified for over-brevity)
Heart available again: One broken owner. Kaska
All these were super, but the best of all, in my opinion, was from BJT whose story followed on from Ernest Hemingway’s ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn....
For sale: baby - already have several.

I tried the same thing on the KindleUsersForum and again I was amazed by the variety and inventiveness of the entries. Here are some that caught my eye.
Were-hamster goes on small rampage.  Lexi Revellian
Died of hay fever. No flowers.  B J Burton
Footprints pointed away from abandoned crutches.  Jennie Lee
Why kiss my neck? Ouch. Oh.  Amanda Leigh Cowley (do you believe in vampires?)

Can anyone do better?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Collective Nouns

It is amazing just how many collective nouns there are in the English language. We have a murder of crows, a belt of asteroids, a flight of stairs and a den of thieves. However, there are a lot that we don't have... officially.

Here are a few suggestions to fill the some of the gaps:

  • A blaze of firemen
  • A smothering of Social Workers
  • A gathering of combine harvesters
  • A shoal of nudists
  • A collection of philatelists
  • A camp of bell-ringers
  • A herd of listeners
  • A number of mathematicians
  • A drift of castaways

Any more for any more? For example, what is the above group of collective nouns called?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Joo's Book Reviews: Interrogating Ken Magee

Joo's Book Reviews has just published an interview with me. Here's the first question and answer... go to Joo's Book Reviews for the full interrogation.
How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

I write fantasy and people who read that genre don’t place too many restrictions on the writer. There was one scene that I was writing for the Dark Tidings sequel that involved a naked wizard and a couple who had snuck off to be alone in a secluded tavern (don’t ask how that all came about!)... I had a lot of fun writing it, but when I read it again, I decided it needed to be toned down a bit. I may ask Joo to read the revised scene to make sure it now qualifies as ‘decent’.
As I said, please check out the whole interview at Joo's Book Reviews.