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24 March 2017

URBAN LEGEND appeared in CRANIAL LEAKAGE Tales from the Grinning Skull Vol. 11 anthology. Nov. 2016. Yes, the print copy finally wandered in, no idea if it was going around in the mail for months or if it was sent after Christmas, but there it was and I’m very pleased. A classy presentation, interesting group of stories, and I was particularly pleased to see that story appear. It was one I wrote for an episodic novel years back and tried to get published in New Zealand.
As usual, not only no luck, but some idiot at one of the publishers suggested that the work was ‘too similar’ to some movie he’d once seen. I may add that I chased up his reference and discovered that the only thing movie and book remotely had in common was that they were ‘episodic.’ sigh.
So, since then I’ve been cannibalising the novel by selling single stories from it where I think an anthology would find one suitable, and by now I’ve sold most of the book. I regret I couldn’t get a book set here accepted here. But then, that’s applied to a lot of my writing over the years, and I can’t regret selling it elsewhere – and often being paid much better than I’d have been paid here. Swings and roundabouts.

15 March 2017

Yes, HARVEST TIME appeared in Robert Stephenson’s THE WORLDS OF SF, FANTASY, AND HORROR 2 from Altir Press. So far I have a perfect record, I’ve had a story in both anthologies. I can recommend these anthologies too, he gets authors from a wide range of countries, with stories that range even further, and I enjoy reading the book when it arrives. This one has a particularly striking cover as well, a stunning piece from Kirsi Solonan of Finland. A nice job all around.

5 March 2017

I enjoy writing new work, the revision is less popular, however I’ve spent much of my writing time over February revising what will eventually be CATACLYSM, the new Mandalay volume. Like its predecessor, this one too will contain three novellas, and a short story. The novellas come out one after the other a couple of months apart and as e-chapbooks, then, once all three have been published, they are gathered into a book along with the bonus story, and are then available for purchase as a complete volume. All the revision being now completed, and some of the galleys too, I am also starting to make notes for the next Holmes double, FOUND DEAD. Never a dull moment – happily.

15 February 2017

Yes, REDEMPTION is out in Whortleberry Press’s new 2017 anthology, 50 FLASHES. In fact that story was written for the anthology. I got the info on the anthology from Jean, and something sparked as I read. I sat down and in a couple of hours I had the story written. Since then I’ve also had the idea for a second story with those characters and will be writing it as soon as I can clear current revision, and find time.

9 February 2017

Yes, with the New year, and the slowing down of news coming in, the local paper’s slush pile of my consumer/recycling articles came into its own again. ICE TRAYS GOOD FOR LEFTOVERS appeared in the DANNEVIRKE NEWS Saturday January 14th 2017. while USES FOR PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS appeared in the DANNEVIRKE NEWS Saturday January 21st 2017.
(Why always on Saturday? Because that’s when the supplement comes out and when they find my articles ideal to fill it if they don’t have quite enough news/photos.)

24 January 2017

This is the variant Sherlock Holmes that I write. I started writing very much in ‘old canon’ Holmes. (REPEAT BUSINESS, BEASTLY MYSTERIES, POISONOUS PEOPLE, FAMILIAR CRIMES) But while what I call the ‘Mandalay Variations” are still solidly old canon, they have something else – a cat. I’ve always considered, that were Holmes and Watson real, Watson would like and understand dogs, while also being an animal lover in general. Holmes on the other hand would like and understand cats, while regarding all other animals as ‘okay.’ And cats too would accept both, while knowing themselves understood by Holmes.
And that was where Emily Jackson (26, modest inherited personal income, esteemed freelance secretary) and her much loved brown Burmese cat, Mandalay, came in. Emily has a suite in a large old house, run by a widowed landlady, Mrs. Jane Knox. Emily was well educated, works because she does not appreciate being idle, and much of her work is the typing (and checking terminology, spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and producing work that an editor can read and make notes between the double spaced lines of) manuscripts at the author’s home.
Where the author is a cat lover and has a house, Mandalay may be permitted to accompany his mistress. Sonmething increasingly common as authors find he is a sensible animal, and that they can get more work done than if his owner must travel to and from her rooms each day. However Mandalay is a cat burglar. As are many cats, (particularly those of the Oriental breeds) he is prone to bring his mistress odd items he has found, as gifts for her.
Some of these are so odd or questionable that Emily calls on Holmes and Watson with them, having met the duo when she was kidnapped by a spy who believed she was in possession of unformation he required. That short story, A MISTRESS – MISSING, appeared in 2015, in a hardcover anthology trilopy out from the Uk, of new Holmes and Watson short stories. I loved Emily and Mandalay and didn’t want that to be the only story about them – and so it isn’t.
Since then I have written three novellas (SOMETHING THE CAT DRAGGED IN, CAT WITH A VESTED INTEREST, CAT WITH ENOUGH ROPE) and another story, (PINNED TO A CRIME) all of which appear in CATALYST. And, still enjoying the duo, I am working on another set, which, if my publishers likes them too, will appear, firstly one by one as three e-chapbooks, then as a book (working title CATACLYSM) which contains the novellas and a new short story too.
Mandalay is based primarily on my Octicat, Thunder, but also on my previous Ocicat Tiger, and on the siamese cats of several author friends. Not that the habit of hauling home strange things is confined to Oriental cats either. A year or so ago the major newspaper where I live printed a photo of a very smug-looking black and white feline posed behind a whole long line of items he’d hauled home, and I know of others. It seems that sometimes a mere dead mouse just won’t do. And so we have Emily Jackson and Mandalay. May you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy the writing.

4 December 2016

Our local newspaper used several more of my ‘consumer/recycling’ articles recently. There were – JARS HAVE A NEW LIFE AS CONTAINERS, MORE USEFUL JOBS FOR THOSE SILICA PACKETS and FIND USES FOR THOSE CHOPSTICKS.
And the SPCA’s summer Quarterly, ANIMALS’ VOICE published my article on pets, KEEPING COOL. Many of my articles arise from things I do myself, or from conversations with friends. And the one on silica gel packets seems to have struck a chord as I had three phone calls after it came out, with callers saying they found the article very useful.

6 November 2016

I’ve completed revision on my latest two SHERLOCK HOLMES books this month. One is a double, SHERLOCK HOLMES:FAMILIAR CRIMES,and the other is CATALYST, the collection of my three Holmes/Mandalay novellas plus a short Holmes/Mandalay story. I enjoy writing Holmes, and enjoy still more writing the stories in which Mandalay (the Brown Burmese) and his owner, Miss Emily, feature.
Those tales aren’t twee, but genuine depictions of a cat that loves to find and haul home odd trophies to present to his beloved human. Two of my own cats have been prone to this, a writer friend (now sadly deceased) had a friend whose cat did this too and even more so, and now and again in my newspaper there is a story about someone’s cat that acts that way. So Mandalay isn’t unusual, nor is his liking for other animals – if they are prepared to be friendly. My previous Ocicat was harness-trained and on walks around my farm he would stop to touch noses with everything from the hens or my house-cow, to a friend’s pony stallion grazing temporarily in my back padddock. It was always nice to see that, and to note that most of the other creatures he approached were happy to reciprocate.

2 October 2016

SHERLOCK HOLMES (in) CAT WITH ENOUGH ROPE was out sept.13th. That’s the third Mandalay e-chapbook novella. Once again I love the cover of these and hope that the book which will contain all three plus a short story, will incorporate the same artwork.
Also I collected an honourable mention and publication for my dragon limerick which is to appear in CLAWSOME DRAGON LIMERICKS (a book) edited by Eileen Mueller – who publishes some very nice work. I couldn’t resist doing a dragon limerick when that suggestion arrived and it was fun to be accepted.

12 September 2016

Our local paper tends to use these in the Saturday Supplement, and over the last few months quite a few more have appeared. I cover recycling and consumer suggestions, and now and again something more general. But the last ones have been – COOLING CATS AND DOGS IN THE HOT WEATHER, A FEW NEW USES FOR YOUR EVERYDAY SPOON, MUCH TO DO WITH THOSE GIANT PUMPKINS, A NEW PURPOSE FOR OLD DRINKING STRAWS, WHAT NOT TO FEED PETS, SUGAR; MORE THAN JUST A SWEETENER, and BRIGHT IDEAS FOR RUBBER BANDS. Often the themes are based on something I do, or have been asked about, and on that basis I don’t think I’ll run out of ideas any time soon.

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