Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Crossword Puzzle - April 2015

I have something very special for you this month. To celebrate the release, earlier this month, of my new book, Heaven and Earth (If you don't know about it yet, where have you been?), the first person to successfully complete this puzzle, and send me the answers, will receive a free electronic copy of the new book!

That's right - simply complete this puzzle, and e-mail me your answers. I'll be publishing the correct answers on this blog, on Tuesday 26 May 2015, and I'll publish the winner's name there. The winner will also be announced in my May 2015 newsletter, so sign up if you don't want to miss it.

Ready? Go!



1 Writer, Hamlet (11)
8 No problems here (3)
9 '80s mountain bike (3)
10 Informal, you (3)
11 Grain or corn (4)
13 Joe Dever's monastic order (3)
14 Precious stone (3)
15 The zest of a lemon (9)
17 South African police (4)
18 Often eaten with gravy (3)
19 Soap (3)
20 On top of (4)
23 Mother Theresa (9)
25 de Janeiro (3)
26 Slang for steal (3)
27 Expressing surprise (4)
28 Modern symbol of slavery (3)
29 Salty water (3)
30 To row a boat (3)
31 Dissipation of heat from the body (adjective) (11)


2 Japanese Samurai sword (6)
3 Earliest ancestor of the horse (8)
4 Why is it blue? (3)
5 To do exceptionally well (5)
6 Of Einstein (11)
7 Complete removal (11)
12 Said while scratching your head (2)
13 Afrikaans food (3)
14 Prefix denoting past tense (Afrikaans) (2)
16 Better than usual (8)
21 Nocturnal bird's abode (6)
22 To vex (3)
23 Broader (5)
24 Blind Discworld god (2)
25 Sun god (2)
28 Also (3)

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Crossword Puzzle - March 2015 Answers

Well, well, what's there to say? Who's waiting for the answers to my March 2015 crossword puzzle?



1 Song rhymes with Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star (3) ABC 
4 PW (5) Botha 
8 Cousin (3) cuz 
10 fog signal (8) diaphone 
13 From the French Héloïse (6) Eloise 
14 Of a cat (6) feline 
15 A young goat (3) kid 
16 Spirit (4) gees 
17 Famous game from Microsoft (4) Halo 
19 Promissory note (3) IOU
20 And flotsam (6) jetsam 
23 Smells like dishwashing liquid (6) lemony 
26 Da Vinci (8) Leonardo 
27 Singular (3) one 
28 Care-giver (5) nurse 
29 Peace or World (3) mir


2 Administrative assistant to chancellor (5) bedel 
3 Musical timing (5) duple 
5 Possesses (4) owns 
6 Feeling of being alone (11) abandonment 
7 What you think of yourself (11) self-opinion
8 Commune in western France (4) Caen 
9 Tibetan cattle (3) zho 
11 River in northern France (4) Oise 
12 Expressions of surprise (4) eeks 
17 Body of a ship (4) hull
18 VIP vehicle (4) limo
20 Knowledge (5) jnana 
21 Medieval circuit court (4) eyre 
22 Japanese paper door (5) shoji 
24 Snake-like fishes (4) eels
25 Or nearest offer (3) ONO

See you next week for another puzzle. You never know - maybe there'll be something special in it for you, in commemoration of the April 2015 release of Heaven and Earth!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Tales from Viruda: The Demise of Lucy

© Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed
reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
William awoke to the sound of incessant screaming and banging on his front door.

“Mr William, please. Come quick!”

It was the voice of Jeremy, son of Marcus, his next door neighbour.

Looking through the window, William could see that it was still dark outside, although he judged that dawn wasn't far off. He climbed out of bed, stuck his feet into a pair of slippers, and hurried to his front door.

When he opened it, he saw the boy standing there. He had calmed down a little by this point, but was still snivelling, and rubbing his eyes.

“Jeremy, what's wrong?” asked William.

“It's Lucy, sir. Our poor cow. Papa killed him this morning, and I miss her so much. I don't know what to do!”

William was stunned. He knew the family well. Marcus and Cathryn had three sons, of which Jeremy was the oldest. While William was well known for being an abusive father and husband, William didn't think he would ever have killed Lucy; the cow was the childrens' pet, and they loved her dearly. Besides, Lucy had been their only cow, and they needed her for milk. He knew that they'd been trying to find a mate for her and hadn't had much success. Perhaps they had gotten tired of waiting, but it still didn't make any sense.

William sighed and said, “All right, Jeremy. Calm down. Now tell me, why would your father do such a thing?”

“Papa was hungry,” said Jeremy. “He said he wanted meat to eat. Mama told him that we could slaughter a pig instead. He got angry and yelled at her, and he hit her. He said that he was tired of pork, and wanted beef for a change. Then he went out to the barn and got an axe. We tried to stop him.” Jeremy pointed to his left eye, showing a large bruise. William was surprised that he hadn't noticed it before; Jeremy's eye was almost swollen shut.

William held the boy tightly to himself, as Jeremy went on. “There was so much blood, Mr William, and we didn't want to see. Papa made us watch; he said it would turn us into men.”

As Jeremy sobbed and squeezed William tightly, William spoke. “There, there,” he said. “I'm sorry, Jeremy. There's nothing that can be done about it, now. I need to attend to my animals today. Will you help me?”

“No thanks, Mr William,” said Jeremy, and sniffed. “I need to get home. Papa will be angry if I'm not at breakfast.” He turned slowly, and walked away, leaving William staring after him, quietly shaking his head.


During the course of that week, William continued to tend his farm, as usual. He did not see Jeremy again, but occasionally heard the unmistakable sound of Marcus screaming at his “stupid boy” for doing something he shouldn't, or not doing something that he should. William's heart was heavy, and he wished that one day, something could be done for those boys and their mother, to take them away from their abusive father.

One morning, as he was working in the fields, he heard a voice, “William, a Virduran farmer!”

William looked around, and saw a tall man with broad shoulders, wearing the uniform of the queen's guard.

As the man got closer, William stood up straight. “Yes? What is it?”

“Come with me,” said the guard. “Your presence has been requested in the throne room at Castle Virdura. You have been accused to stealing your neighbour's cow.”

To find out what happens next, please read the fantasy short story, A Petition to Magic.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Do You Pirate E-Books?

Do you pirate e-books? Whether yes or no, I'd love to hear from you. Click here, take my five question survey, and let me know!

The reason I ask is simple. Earlier this month, South African technology site and forum MyBroadband conducted a survey, asking people whether they pirate content (movies, games, television series, etc.) online, and if so, why. You can read the results of that survey here.

The results were very interesting indeed. It turns out that, of the 4 007 IT professionals that completed the survey, 55% had pirated something in the last twelve months. The reasons why they pirated content was quite surprising to me.

Anyway, you can read the results of that survey by clicking the link above.

What I found disappointing was that the survey didn't give any information about the people that specifically pirated e-books. Even though a follow-up article revealed that 27% of those people who admitted to piracy, also pirated books, it doesn't go into any great detail about that demographic.

I have therefore created my own little survey, and I wonder if you would mind taking a few moments to fill it in. Aside from being specifically about e-books, my readership is also more international than MyBroadband (which is very South African focused), and so I'm also hoping to understand whether the trends reported for South Africans would be mirrored internationally.

If you wouldn't mind taking my survey, I'd really appreciate it. Click here to fill it out; it should take less than five minutes!

You can also join the conversation, and let us all know your feelings about e-book piracy, by posting your comments below. Just remember that, while the survey is completely anonymous, the commenting system is not!

The image for this post comes from a 2011 article by CNET, entitled Kindle e-book piracy accelerates.