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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.

10 August 2016

yes, first I had confirmation earlier this week that 2 of my original poems, and two stories have been accepted, and immediately posted in the new genre magazine, ALTERED REALITIES, then I had a parcel in the mail. So – if you go to in general, you’ll find a new and interesting zine. If you want me specifically try
Okay? As for the parcel, that was copies of MYRIAD LANDS Vols 1 & 2, a really nicely chosen and presented duo. It’s been an excellent week.

Update on Altered Realities. They have now added THE OFFICE OF SPECIAL CLAIMS and THE SEDRA ANOMALY.

26 July 2016

email from editor J.A. campbell of THE STORY EMPORIUM. Yes, I have a story – FOR LOVE OF MAXIE – in the second volume. Anyone who likes steampunk/weird westerns should take note.

4 July 2016

Yes, AMY sold to UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES Anthology (Wolfsinger Pubs.) I’ve just okayed the galleys, and the anthology should be out any day now, while the cover, (based on my story) is fantastic!

17 June 2016

Thanks to all who voted for me, but sadly this time I didn’t win. On the other hand if schedules are kept, I may have at least one eligible book again in 2018 since a fantasy novel should be out next year. Meanwhile short stories continue to sell with A FRIEND OF GRANNY NGAIRE sold to MYRIAD LANDS ANTHOLOGY.(Guardbridge Books) for mid-July.

2 June 2016

Yes, life is good. I signed contracts for BASTET’S DAUGHTERS with Wildside April 20th. I’m delighted, they do such a great job on the Sherlock Holmes pastiches I write, that I know I’ll be happy with this fantasy book too.
Then I had acceptances for- LALLI sold to rEVOLUTION antho. (MIFI writers) and
The Story Emporium accepted FOR LOVE OF MAXIE. An annual weird western steampunk volume, edited by J.A. Campbell who has a degree in Horse management, so I enjoy trying for a horse story that fits the theme. (Must now start encouraging my subconscious to consider something for next year, it’s never too early.)

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