Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Crossword Puzzle - March 2014

Do you like crossword puzzles?

Well, you'll love this one!

I've decided to try something new this month. Normally, my crossword puzzles are released on the last Tuesday of every month, and the answers are released on the first Tuesday of the following month. The first person to send me the answers before then receives a mention on this blog.

Recently, though, I've begun thinking that a week is a bit too short to expect anyone to answer it in. Therefore, this month, you will have three whole weeks!

So print out this puzzle, solve it, and send me the answers via Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. The answers will be posted on Tuesday, 22 April 2014, and if yours are the first correct answers I receive before then, you'll be immortalised on this blog!

So without further ado, here it is. Have fun!

1 A Latin-American (6)
3 Merged with Exxon in 1999 (5)
5 Counts down to something (5)
8 Fencing sword (6)
12 About nothing (3)
13 Shows authenticity (8)
16 American war (3)
17 Female sheep (3)
18 Unit of current (3)
19 British exclamation (3)
22 Type of poem (3)
24 Booyens, South African race walker (3)
25 Someone who can't swim does this (8)
27 Electrically charged atom (3)
28 Annoying (6)
29 The Blade Runner (5)
31 Concubine (5)
32 Body art (6)
2 Water you can't drink (3)
4 Waters, arsonist (6)
6 One thousandth of an inch (3)
7 It wasn't built in a day (4)
9 A question (3)
10 Dutch cheese (4)
11 One who frolics (6)
13 Island state (6)
14 Having run away (4)
15 Do over (4)
20 A smell (4)
21 Carries oil (6)
23 Europeans not in the UK use it (4)
25 What I hope this puzzle is (3)
26 What's up? (Bugs) (3)
30 Military rank (3)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Stopping Through

This month's prompt comes from Creative Prompts and Exercises. It's entitled "Stopping Through", and it goes like this:

Motels are frequently depicted in novels, TV, and film. This week, write a scene that takes place in a motel. Perhaps it's a seedy, roadside fleabag; a clean, well-maintained establishment with a dark history; or simply a familiar setting for a dramatic turning point in your narrative. You can weave it into a short story or use it as a starting point for a new piece. It can be inspired by your own experience or entirely imagined.

The moment I read this, I was really excited because I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Jesse sat on the bed of the small motel room, gun trained on the door. In the distance, he heard the voices of the couple he was interested in. Janie and Mark were coming down the hallway to the room, giggling. If Jesse closed his eyes, he could just imagine them walking hand in hand, eagerly anticipating their first night as a married couple.

But he wasn't about to close his eyes. Not after tracking that two-timing spy all the way from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and back again. No, Jesse wasn't going to miss one minute of seeing Janie squirm. He almost felt sorry for her new husband. Poor Mark didn't know who he'd gotten himself (quite literally) into bed with.

When the door opened, it was Mark who saw Jesse first. He was backing his new bride through the open door, with his lips locked onto hers and his hands clenched onto the back of her blouse, ready to pull it up over her head. As soon as he saw Jesse, he automatically pushed Janie away and to the side, as his jaw fell open.

“Mark, whats-” began Janie, before she spun around and saw her old partner, sitting there with a gun pointed at her chest.

“Hello, my old friend,” said Jesse with a smirk. “I see you've found a new play-thing. Does he have any idea who you are?”

“Leave him alone,” commanded Janie, now that she had regained some of her composure.

“Oh, I have no intention of bringing him to any harm,” replied Jesse, but as he said it he picked up a silencer from the bed beside him and began screwing it onto his pistol, “if you give me what I want.” He pointed the gun slowly at Mark, and said quietly “Close the door.”

Mark complied, his hands shaking. Turning around again, he managed to squeak, “Janie, what's going on here? Who is this man?”

“Yes,” said Jesse. “Tell him, Janie. Tell him exactly who I am, and exactly what's going on here. But first,” he trained the gun on Mark's leg, “tell me where my diamonds are!”

“I don't know what you're talking about!” snapped Janie.

Without saying a word, Jesse casually pulled the trigger. Mark screamed, and crumbled to the floor, sobbing and clutching his left leg, just above the knee. Blood seeped through his fingers. Janie was on the floor next to him in an instant, gripping Mark's hand and cooing to him. She turned and glared at Jesse: “You monster!”

“Oh, don't pretend you care about him,” said Jesse. “It wasn't too long ago that we were sharing a bed. You took my diamonds and left me high and dry, and three weeks later I hear you're in Joburg and engaged. Now,” he took aim at Mark's head this time, “I'm not going to ask again: where... are... my... diamonds?”

Don't forget, you can find out more about my writing, and maybe purchase a book or two, by clicking on My Books.

The image used for this post comes from Flickr. It's an image entitled Newcastle Hotel Room by user Rob Davies.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Readers: Why You Should Join Scribd

You may have seen the posts on Facebook (here and here) and Twitter (here and here) recently, about the fact that A Petition to Magic and Heritage of Deceit are now available on Scribd.

I think that this is a really wonderful idea! For those who don't know, you pay Scribd $8.99 per month (that's the cost at the time of this writing), and you can read as much as you want from their growing catalogue of books. And the catalogue certainly is growing. They claim to have over 100 000 books to read as part of their monthly subscription package, but there are probably a lot more: Smashwords announced a deal with Scribd last year, where they would begin distributing their over 250 000 books to Scribd (That's where A Petition to Magic and Heritage of Deceit come from).

Although the service costs $8.99 per month, you can get your first month's subscription for free. You have to enter your credit card details to sign up, but you can cancel at any time during the month. That means that if you're not prepared to pay their monthly subscription fee (which I think is very reasonable, by the way), you can still sign up, read A Petition to Magic and Heritage of Deceit, and many others, and cancel before the end of the month.

Scribd must be pretty confident that you're not going to do this; they stand to lose a lot of money if you do!

There's another site, called Oyster, that offers a similar service, but it's almost a dollar more expensive, at $9.95 per month. I'm not sure if their catalogue is bigger than Scribd's or not, but they're also only available in the United States. To the best of my knowledge, Scribd is available worldwide, which is a huge bonus if you're like most of the world who don't live in the US. (If you can confirm or deny Scribd's worldwide availability, please let me know in the comments section at the end of this post.)

Scribd is affordably priced, available worldwide, and has been described as the Netflix of books. Are you a subscriber? Why, or why not? Do you think this is a sustainable business model? Let's start a conversation! Pop your thoughts into the comment box below.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Crossword Puzzle - February 2014 Answers

Have you been tearing your hair out trying to get all the answers to the February 2014 crossword puzzle?

Well, be frustrated no more! Now, be prepared to kick yourself as you see the answers.

And here are your answers:

1 Substitute (9) surrogate
7 What you sow (4) reap
8 Handbag brand (5) Gucci
9 Mongrel (3) cur
10 Heritage of (6) deceit
12 Spirit board (5) Ouija
13 Stuart (3) Stu
14 Sex (4) shag
17 Get your attention (4) psst
20 For water or ashes (3) urn
21 Zuck's sister (5) Randi
22 Dainty (6) petite
24 Affirmative (3) yea
25 OS before 7 (5) vista
26 Zn (4) zinc
27 Of Deceits (9) Heritages
1 Take it to the moon (9) spaceship
2 reassemble (7) regroup
3 Colourful flowers (7) orchids
4 German sportswear company (6) Adidas
5 2004 Miss America (6) Ericka
6 Three Kings (4) Magi
11 Chops off (9) truncates
15 More than just a phone (7) handset
16 Capital of Guizhou province (7) Guiyang
18 Stabbing pain after excersise (6) stitch
19 Manuel (6) Trevor
23 It loses in the end (4) evil

Oops! Sorry about the typo in 8 Across! The original clue was Hangbag brand, where it should've been Handbag brand. *blush* It happens to the best of us, sometimes. Hope it wasn't the question that had you stumped. (If it was, please comment below).

It was also very sneaky to put those two questions about Heritage of Deceit in there. I figured that if you'd read the book, you would have gotten the answers. Quick show of hands: how many of you got those questions right? Did you read the book, or was it just logical to you?

Well, I hope you had fun with the February crossword. Come back on the last Tuesday of March for another one!