Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Do You Believe in Guardian Angels?


I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas!

So, it's been a really long time since I've published a book. I won a short story competition about a month ago, and I've been actively promoting the books I do have, but my heart yearns to click the "Publish" button on something more substantial.

Well, I have a confession to make: for the past six months, I've been working on the first draft of my first full-length novel (the others so far having been flash fiction, short stories, and novelettes).

As yet untitled, it's about a man who dies and gets recruited to be a guardian angel. He has some adventures with people from the mortal realm that he's been assigned to protect, and learns some important lessons about humanity and himself along the way.

The finished product is still a long way off, don't get me wrong, but I've been on leave from my day job for the past week, and have had time to put in some serious writing on it.

I'm comfortable I'll have the first draft ready by, say, March 2017, and shortly thereafter I may just be posting again, looking for beta readers!

What do you think? Does this sound like a book you'd like to read?

Want to Name a Character?


In the meantime, I thought it would be cool to offer you guys the chance to get involved. Have you ever wanted to name a character in someone else's novel?

Well, I'm giving one person the chance to do just that. All you have to do is to write a review of one of my books:


Once you've written the review, post it online somewhere. It could be anywhere that's publicly accessible, be it Goodreads, Amazon or some other retailer, or your personal blog.

Then, post a link to your review in the comments for everyone to see, along with your proposed character's name and gender, and perhaps a brief physical description (he or she must be a modern-day human; No dwarves or elves).

If you've already reviewed one of my books, review another one! Only reviews first posted between now and Friday, 27 January 2017 will be counted.

Your review doesn't have to be favourable either. Whether you loved or hated the book in question, I want to hear it. I promise that the winning review will be picked completely at random, from all the reviews I get in, on here and other platforms where I'll be announcing the contest.

Your character may end up just having a cameo role, or they might actually end up being pivotal to the story. If you win, I'll be in touch with you to work out the details.

Whatever you do, do not put any personal contact info in the comments! It's extremely dangerous to publish e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc. on the Public Internet, and I'll disqualify anyone who does so.

If you win, I'll find a way to get in touch with you privately.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

2016 Blog Stats



Around this time of the year, I like to take a look at how my blog did. Where the most traffic came from, where the most traffic came from, the most popular posts, that sort of thing. I hope you'll find it as interesting as I do; maybe you'll also discover a post you never knew I wrote, which you'll find exceedingly useful - who knows?

Top Countries

During the course of 2016, the countries that gave me the most views were:
  1. United States
  2. South Africa
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Brazil
  5. Germany
I don't think the top four are any surprise. Although it's a pity that the United States beat out South Africa, for views to a South African blog. Come on, my home country. Give me some views!

Brazil and Germany are interesting, though. I'm pleasantly surprised, but I wonder what the Brazilians and Germans see in my blog. If you're reading this post from one of those countries, why not pop me a comment and let me know?

Top Searches

Two searches completely dominated hits to my website this year. Click the links to see the Google Search Results for those respective terms.
No surprises there - those are both flash fiction stories I wrote. Obviously, people love those stories so much, they're actually searching for them!

Top Posts

It's great to see some of my old posts still getting views, especially one from 2014! That one, The Witch of Wellington, is probably what people view after searching for "witch of wellington" (duh!).


As you can see, my humble little blog is still rather small, but I'm hoping that posts like this one will help bring it into the limelight, as readers like you find it and get excited about the things I share.

Merry Christmas!

Oh, and by the way, there's less than a week to go before Christmas. I truly, sincerely, hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful, blessed festive season, and that you stay safe out there.

As per usual, I will be in church from 23:00 on Christmas Eve, and we'll be out of bed really early on Christmas Day to open presents. What's your Christmas tradition?

Anyway, try to remember the reason for the reason, and if you're drinking, please don't drive.. Your life isn't the only one you put in your hands, any time you get behind the wheel.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

My Favourite Books of 2016


According to Goodreads, I read thirty-five books this year - and I may squeeze another one or two in before the end of December.

I review every single book I read, but one thing you'll realise about me is that I am very ruthless when it comes to my reviews. Because of this, of all the books I've read this year, only five managed to earn a coveted five stars from me.

I started the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin (on which the HBO series Game of Thrones is based), and was quite shocked to find that, looking back, three of those five were from that series!

My five favourite books of 2016 are therefore:

  • Write Your Way Out Of Depression: Practical Self-Therapy For Creative Writers by Rayne Hall
  • A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) by George R.R. Martin
  • Mold by Lindsey Goddard
  • A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) by George R.R. Martin
  • A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin

I hope you enjoy my reviews, and that this list will introduce you to some new books and authors you've maybe never heard of before.

For each book, click on the title to see a list of all stores where you can buy it online.

Write Your Way Out Of Depression: Practical Self-Therapy For Creative Writers by Rayne Hall



About the Book

Use your writing talent and your skill with words heal yourself. Author Rayne Hall and psychologist Alexander Draghici show fourteen practical strategies for self-therapy.

Do you feel like you’re trapped in a dark hole of morass, sinking deeper and deeper, the mud rising to your hips, your chest, your throat? Is despair smothering you like a heavy blanket? Is your own life moving past you like a train, and you are forced to watch and cannot board? Has crippling lethargy wrapped its tentacles around you so tightly that you cannot move, sucking from you all energy and the will to live?

If you want to get better, to feel alive again, if you want to step out of this darkness and take control of your recovery, this book can help.

My Review

This was a difficult book to read, and is proving to be a difficult book to review as well. Mostly, because it's so intense, and sometimes reading it can be depressing in itself.

Let me explain: I do believe most artists suffer from some or other form of depression or anxiety, and writers are no different. I definitely think I do, although I've never been officially diagnosed. I can identify with many of the issues described in this book - which is good, because it assures me that I'm not alone. On the other hand, I obviously don't have depression nearly as bad as some of my writer colleagues from around the world, because many of the issues described in this book were so over-the-top that I had trouble believing some people have it as bad.

I do believe it, though, and that's where the depression came in.

In Write Your Way Out of Depression, Rayne Hall confesses her own struggle with the disorder, and how she found healing by writing. And that's what this book is actually about. It's full of practical, no-nonsense advice, and tricks that you can try at home to help ease your pain... and become a better writer in the process.

The writing advice in this book is presented in a way typical of the rest of the Writer's Craft series, which I'm no stranger to, and I've always found extremely helpful. For this particular instalment, Ms Hall decided to recruit clinical psychologist Alexander Draghici. He gives credence to her words, but also, after each tip, he gives a bit of an explanation about what aspect of the disorder the advice is actually trying to address, and how and why it works. I thought that was a nice touch!

I'd recommend this book to any creative types (not just writers) who suffer, or think they might suffer from depression. You can pick and choose which advice you want to follow, based on what you have the energy for on any given day, and what you think might help for you. If you've tried everything else, try this - it might help!

Mold by Lindsey Goddard



About the Book

When a new mother is forced to move into an old boarding home, she discovers the dark secret behind the phantom mold that keeps appearing on her walls.

My Review

I really enjoyed this little story. Not so much scary as creepy, it's very psychological.

The writing is brilliant, and the pacing is just right. It definitely made me think... and I liked the open ending, too!

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin



About the Book

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must ...and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

My Review

That was epic.

I first heard about Game of Thrones from the TV series. I watched Season One, and a little bit of Season Two. To be honest, I really really wanted to like it. But hard as I tried, I couldn't get into it; everything was just so confusing, and there were way too many characters and plot lines to follow. I gave up after the third or fourth episode of Season Two.

Then, people started talking about how much better the book is. I still really really wanted to like it, so I decided to give it a read.

Those people were right. As is typically the case, the book is about a thousand times better than the TV series. There are still lots of characters, and many different plot lines. In fact, there are more sub-plots than there are on TV, but the book goes into so much more detail, that everything just started falling into place. That, and the fact that I'm reading the book at my own pace, and can always page back if I forget who a certain character is, or where he fits into the story.

The characters are all instantly memorable, but fair warning: what you've heard about Mr Martin's propensity to kill your favourites off without warning is absolutely true. It makes the world feel more real, though, and it's very period-appropriate. One moment you believe that a character's going to be the saviour of the world, and live on throughout the series, and the next there's a jousting accident and he's dead. Gone. Never to be mentioned again.

My favourite character, like I think most people's favourite is (whether you're reading the book or watching it on TV), is Tyrion Lannister, the Imp. He was cast perfectly in the TV show, but he's portrayed in even more detail in the book. If you'll indulge me, I'll share a quick quote:

"How would you like to die, Tyrion Lannister?"

"Peacefully in bed, with a young whore's mouth around my cock, at the age of eighty."

Something like that. I may have paraphrased.

Other things I noticed, that made the world seem more real, and more appropriate to the period, were the ages of the characters. I think they're mentioned on TV, but it's little more than a gloss-over, if I remember correctly. Jon Snow, for example, is fourteen years old when he goes to spend the rest of his life on The Wall. Dany is thirteen on her wedding night, and her husband is something like twenty-five. I understand that stuff like that would be difficult to portray on screen, because of modern sensitivities to things like the age of consent and statutory rape.

If you've watched Season One of the TV series, you're sure to enjoy the book, because it contains things that I don't remember seeing on TV. If you haven't, you're even surer to enjoy the book.

Oh, one more thing: the book actually ends a little way (probably the third or fourth episode) into Season Two of the TV series. Which happens to be about when I gave up watching, so from here on in, everything's going to be new for me!

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) by George R.R. Martin



About the Book

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead...victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard's son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King's Landing. Robert's two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory may be measured in blood. And the spoils of victory may just go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when rulers clash, all of the land feels the tremors.

Audacious, inventive, brilliantly imagined, A Clash of Kings is a novel of dazzling beauty and boundless enchantment;a tale of pure excitement you will never forget.

My Review

I think that one of the things that makes this serious utterly engrossing, is the attention to detail.

The universe is so well fleshed out, and the characters who live in it do so in a completely believable way. For example, with the notable exception of Joffrey, I don't think there are any "bad" guys in this story. There aren't any "good" guys, either. There are just people, with deep and complex motivations and goals, and everything they do or say fits in with those motivations, and their circumstances in the world. If I put myself into any one of their shoes, I cannot say that I'd do anything different.

This book is actually better than A Game of Thrones, in my opinion. There's a lot more action... and a lot of stuff happens. Unfortunately, I can't tell you very much of it for fear of spoilers, but I will say that many of our favourite characters return, and quite a few very important characters die. Oh, and there be dragons.

Something else that I thought was pretty cool: I read A Game of Thrones three months ago, and there were a few minor details I'd forgotten. George R.R. Martin does such a wonderful job of explaining each character's place in the world as we first meet them, that it was a pleasurable experience when the memories of each came flooding back. I'd almost (almost) say that it's not necessary to have read the first book in the series to enjoy the second. But I think you'd miss quite a bit.

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) by George R.R. Martin



About the Book

Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin's magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords...

My Review

I'm thoroughly enjoying this series, but I can't think of anything else to say about it at this point without spoiling anything.

The depth of characters, the complicated and well thought out plots and motivations, the rich detail of the setting... what's not to like?

I will say that a lot happens in this instalment; more than in either volume before it. And the trend looks set to continue, because according to Wikipedia, each book is longer than the last. I hope this isn't too big of a spoiler, but lots of people die in this one. It's almost as though the author is clearing away some older characters to make way for new ones.

As I intimated earlier, this book IS long, and I'm not the kind of person who can read a whole book series back-to-back. That's particularly true for this one because it's also very intense. I'll be taking a bit of a break before diving into the next book.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Authors' Newsletters: What Makes You Sign Up?

I'm not sure how it is in other industries, but nowadays, most authors - especially independent authors - will tell you that their biggest asset is their e-mail list.

We cannot rely on Amazon (or Google Play, or Smashwords) to e-mail our readers when we have new books out. Rather, when a reader's finished reading one of our books, we need to grab their e-mail address as soon as possible, so we can send them e-mails about our new books, and make sure that they know about our promotions. Not only that, but readers tend to love reading about an author's life, so sending them regular newsletters can only be a good idea.

There's another problem - we're all so inundated with information these days that we tend to forget. So a reader who's never heard of me before sees a Tweet or something from me, clicks through to my website, and thinks Oh, this is interesting. I'll check him out later.

The problem is, that reader gets busy with other things going on in their life and forgets all about me. Then they see a Tweet from a different author, and the cycle repeats.

The solution, of course, is to get an e-mail address out of them the very first time they visit my website. But that's easier said than done. Again, because we're so inundated with messages nowadays, that reader may already be on more than a few mailing lists. And e-mail overload is real, which makes an e-mail address a very valuable (and closely guarded) thing.

Why should the reader give me theirs?

It's a big dilemma for authors like me, trying to get noticed. You may be interested in me, but if I don't do something to keep myself on the top of your mind, I'm going to lose your interest very quickly. How do I convince you to give me your e-mail address?

Most independent authors opt to give away something for free - "If you sign up to my e-mail list, I'll give you...." That seems to be the most effective way at the moment.

Some of those authors even give away whole books for free. That's the strategy I've adopted myself, but since I'm a multi-genre author, I have four different books to chose from: if you sign up to my e-mail newsletter, you can pick one of those four books to get as a free download.

It's still difficult, though. Even at the prospect of a free read, so many people are still reluctant to give up that precious e-mail address. Perhaps they don't trust us enough not to abuse it, or maybe for some people, nothing can ever be enough for them to tolerate yet another intrusion into their already overflowing Inboxes.

So what about you? Do you, as a reader, subscribe to the e-mail lists of any authors? If so, what was it that made you sign up? Did you give them your e-mail address freely, or did they have to woo you with something?

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Transport: Premium Children's Colouring Books


With all the hype about Adult Colouring Books these days, do you sometimes feel that the children are being left out?So did my wife and I. A few months ago, we embarked on a project to produce a really professional, premium line of colouring books for children.

The first instalment of that series was Animals: Premium Children's Colouring Books:



That one sold so well in its first few weeks, that we very quickly decided to do another one. This one's called Transport, and as the name implies, the pictures are all about people involved in various forms of transportation - fictional and otherwise.

We put it together in the beginning of October, threw it up on Lulu, and ordered some proofs. The proofs finally arrived this past weekend (from Europe to South Africa, via regular post).

I hope you'll agree that it was worth the wait. Aren't they beautiful?

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Book Review: Write Your Way Out of Depression, by Rayne Hall



Last week, I posted about receiving an advance review copy of Rayne Hall's Write Your Way Out of Depression, and I shared some of my own thoughts for why many artists suffer from some sort of depression or anxiety.

Well, I'm pleased to announce that my review is now done, and I thought I'd share it with you:


About the Book


Use your writing talent and your skill with words heal yourself. Author Rayne Hall and psychologist Alexander Draghici show fourteen practical strategies for self-therapy.

Do you feel like you’re trapped in a dark hole of morass, sinking deeper and deeper, the mud rising to your hips, your chest, your throat? Is despair smothering you like a heavy blanket? Is your own life moving past you like a train, and you are forced to watch and cannot board? Has crippling lethargy wrapped its tentacles around you so tightly that you cannot move, sucking from you all energy and the will to live?

If you want to get better, to feel alive again, if you want to step out of this darkness and take control of your recovery, this book can help.

My Review (5 / 5 stars)


This was a difficult book to read, and is proving to be a difficult book to review as well. Mostly, because it's so intense, and sometimes reading it can be depressing in itself.

Let me explain: I do believe most artists suffer from some or other form of depression or anxiety, and writers are no different. I definitely think I do, although I've never been officially diagnosed. I can identify with many of the issues described in this book - which is good, because it assures me that I'm not alone. On the other hand, I obviously don't have depression nearly as bad as some of my writer colleagues from around the world, because many of the issues described in this book were so over-the-top that I had trouble believing some people have it as bad.

I do believe it, though, and that's where the depression came in.

In Write Your Way Out of Depression, Rayne Hall confesses her own struggle with the disorder, and how she found healing by writing. And that's what this book is actually about. It's full of practical, no-nonsense advice, and tricks that you can try at home to help ease your pain... and become a better writer in the process.

The writing advice in this book is presented in a way typical of the rest of the Writer's Craft series, which I'm no stranger to, and I've always found extremely helpful. For this particular instalment, Ms Hall decided to recruit clinical psychologist Alexander Draghici. He gives credence to her words, but also, after each tip, he gives a bit of an explanation about what aspect of the disorder the advice is actually trying to address, and how and why it works. I thought that was a nice touch!

I'd recommend this book to any creative types (not just writers) who suffer, or think they might suffer from depression. You can pick and choose which advice you want to follow, based on what you have the energy for on any given day, and what you think might help for you. If you've tried everything else, try this - it might help!

Buy the Book


Click here to see where you can buy the book.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

On Artists and Depression



Last week, prominent author coach Rayne Hall sent me an advance review copy of her new book, Write Your Way Out Of Depression. This after we had a conversation on Twitter about a month ago, about famous writers from history who suffered from depression.

Then, on the same day as receiving the ARC, local radio presenter Roxy Blows was talking to a musician on her Mix 93.8 FM Radio show here in Johannesburg. I can't remember what the artist's name was, but one of the things he mentioned was that most musicians suffer from depression.

I've often suspected that creative people of all sorts tend to have some form of depression or anxiety disorder - whether diagnosed or not. What's more, one of my Facebook friends is a painter, and she often posts about her depression.

The thing is, I don't know whether being an artist makes one depressed, or if it's just that depressed people tend to be more disposed to the creative pursuits.

I have heard before that emotional trauma can lead to depression, if your resilience isn't strong enough. Even if you are resilient enough to get through a particular trauma, multiple traumas in a short space of time can really wear you down. An example was losing your beloved pet. Okay, it's sad, but you can deal with that. A week later, one of your parents passes away, and a month after that, you have a big fight with your long-term girlfriend and end up breaking up with her.

All these things have a cumulative effect on your psyche, and eventually, you crack.

Although it feels silly to put what I'm about to say in the same league as the above, there are many different types of trauma. I think that rejection is a valid form, and as artists of all types, we're used to suffering rejection after rejection as we try to get our work noticed by the world.

Do you think that could be a cause? Or is it something else?

What came first - the depression or the artist?

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Physical Description for Characters



When you're reading a book, how do you feel about physical descriptions of characters?

Do you like to know exactly what a character looks like, from skin tone, to hair and eye colour, to height and weight? Or do you prefer to use your imagination?

For myself, I tend to be very light on my character descriptions. Unless it's plot-relevant, you probably won't know what colour my character's hair or eyes are, or his skin tone, or how big his biceps are (I know romance readers need all those details, but suck it up).

And there's a conscious reason for that: I feel that every reader's going to imagine a character based on his or her own cultural experience.

For example, in Stingers, my protagonist is a skinny thirteen-year-old boy. That's about all you get - although I might mention at some point (I can't remember) the fact that he wears a school uniform - which is relevant, because in South Africa, public school kids wear uniforms.

Who's to say that that character isn't black, or asian? In my mind he's a middle-class white kid from a middle class family, but I mean no disrespect or prejudice by that. If you want to make him a poor black kid from the township, I'm not going to tell you you're wrong, because it's simply not relevant to the plot - like Hermoine from Harry Potter: J.K. Rowling never said she was white. When they made the movies, they cast a white actress, but there have been stage performances in the US where she's been black.

Does it make a difference?

Worse, it could hamper certain readers' enjoyment of the story, I think, if I insisted that a character looked a certain way - unless I was specifically writing a book about hatred towards blond(e)s, for example. Then I might insist that a character had blond hair - then it would be relevant.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Readers, how do you find books?


I've been thinking a lot lately about how readers discover books.

To give you some background, for readers who may not know, all e-book retailers are basically search engines. The idea is when a reader is looking for a new book to read, she'll head over to her favourite e-book retailer (Amazon or Google Play Books or Kobo, or whatever) and punch something into the search box there. She will then browse through the results that the retailer returns, and select her next read.

Besides the title and product description, there are two things that cause a book to show up in these results. The first is the book's category, and the second is a list of keywords that the author or publisher enters to describe the book.

Amazon and Smashwords are both rather restrictive, and allow self-published authors to choose up to two categories for our books. Kobo allows up to three, and Google Play allows as many as you want. Which is great, because more often than not, a given book falls into more than two or three categories.

I've been struggling to come up with which categories are the best fit for my books. I think that stems from the fact that as authors, the way we search for books is drastically different from the way readers do.

I Need Your Help


Readers, I need your help! If you were searching for a book to read, what would you put into Amazon's (or Kobo's, or Google Play's) search box?

Let's Play a Game


In fact, let's play a game: Imagine you're on the lookout for a book to read. Take the keywords you would enter into your favourite retailer's search engine, and instead, enter them into the comments below.

You don't have to explain anything - just enter your search string into the comments.

It may sound rather silly, but it will help give me and other authors valuable insights into what readers are looking for - for example, does anybody ever actually type "Juvenile Fiction" into a search box?

I really appreciate your time. Don't forget, you can get a free e-book in exchange for signing up to my e-mail newsletter. Click here for more info.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Book Review: The Stand by Stephen King


About the Book


First came the days of the plague…

After the days of the plague came the dreams.

Dark dreams that warned of the coming of the dark man. The apostate of death, his worn-down boot heels tramping the night roads. The warlord of the charnel house and Prince of Evil.

His time is at hand. His empire grows in the west and the Apocalypse looms…

My Review (3 / 5 Stars)


This is probably the lowest rating I've ever given a Stephen King book. And I was really torn between three and four stars.

Allow me to explain:

First of all, I really enjoyed the story. It's incredibly well plotted and detailed, and the characters are all very fleshed out. The writing, in general, is exquisitely good, as it typical of "Uncle Stevie".

The thing is, this book is LONG. I bought it on Kindle, and I inadvertently bought the "unabridged version", which is supposed to contain over 400 extra pages, that weren't included in the original because of financial concerns at the publisher. Since I'd never read the story before, and knew next to nothing about it, I wasn't to know.

Having now read it over the course of just under a month and a half, I can say with confidence that it could've done without those extra 400 pages. And I could tell pretty easy which pages weren't in the original because they're mostly the ones that need some editing care. It's plain as day, actually, that certain scenes, certain chapters, in some cases whole characters, were simply "bolted on".

People tell me that The Stand is the scariest book they've ever written. Well, fear is very subjective, because I hardly found it scary at all. It was a bit creepy at times (most notably the ouija board scene), but nothing I would call "scary". It IS a very religious story, and maybe the reason why I wasn't particularly scared is because of my religious background, and the fact that I was able to separate the things that I KNOW could happen (and do happen) in real life, from the things that couldn't.

I will say that my first encounter with Randall Flagg was a good one. He may just be the best villain ever conceived. Which book featuring him should I read next?​

Buy Now


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Morality of Self-Driving Cars

About two years ago, I wrote a flash fiction story called "An Automatic Decision", which you can find in the flash fiction collection, Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash Fiction.

In it, I speculated what might happen if a self-driving car had to make a decision between saving the life of its driver, and saving the life on an innocent bystander.

When I wrote it, I had no idea how prophetic that would turn out to be. I read an article yesterday on Co,Exist, entitled Self-Driving Mercedes Will Be Programmed To Sacrifice Pedestrians To Save The Driver. Here's a quote from that article:

One of the biggest debates about driverless cars concerns the moral choices made when programming a car's algorithms. Say the car is spinning out of control, and on course to hit a crowd queuing at a bus stop. It can correct its course, but in doing so, it'll kill a cyclist for sure. What does it do? Mercedes's answer to this take on the classic Trolley Problem is to hit whichever one is least likely to hurt the people inside its cars. If that means taking out a crowd of kids waiting for the bus, then so be it.

Scary, isn't it?

I don't know about you, but if you ask me, that's definitely a decision that should be left up to the driver!

Maybe the driver should be able to set some parameters beforehand, to tell the car what should happen in that situation.

Of course, it would be ideal if the car could do what it did in An Automatic Decision, which would be to stop time. But that's not going to happen, now is it?

What do you think? Should a self-driving car be allowed to make a call between saving a single human life, and potentially dozens?


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Any Other Indie Authors on Google Play?

Let's face it, Android is the most popular smartphone operating system in the world today.

And Android comes bundled with, among other Google Play apps, Google Play Books.

Yet, you don't hear of very many independent authors' books being available there... at least, I haven't.

Well, I am very happy to announce that, from this week, mine will be!

You won't find all my books immediately. I'm adding them in drips and drabs. But if you have an Android smartphone or tablet, please check back often; within the next week or so, you'll be able to get every one of my books on Google Play.

Click here to visit my author page at Google Play Books.

As a reader, have you ever purchased books from Google Play? If so, what do you think of the service? Is it convenient? What's their e-reader like?

(Note: I am in no way affiliated with Google Play. My books just happen to be available on the platform.)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Your/You're, There/Their/They're - I Think I Know Why


The image above says it all, doesn't it?

If you've been on the Internet for more than six months, chances are you've run into people who confuse "your" and "you're".

Maybe you've even been guilty of it yourself.

Well, I have a theory as to where the confusion comes from.

When I was growing up, it never occurred to me that anybody could confuse those two words. In fact, the first I heard of it was back in 1998 (at the tender age of 18 years), when I first got online.

I think it stems from the fact that most Americans (depending on where in North America you live) pronounce "your" and "you're" as homophones - something like "yure". Come to think of it, that's probably where the chat/SMS abbreviation "ur" comes from, which is used for both words... although I've also seen people using "ur" exclusively to abbreviate "your" and "ure" to abbreviate "you're".

But I digress. As a South African, I've never pronounced either of those words that way. I grew up pronouncing "your" as "yore" (As in, "Days of yore"), and when I say it, "you're" sounds more like "you-er".

Now, to me, "there" and "their" are homophones, and so I will admit to occasionally getting those two mixed up. But "they're" sounds nothing whatsoever like them - similarly to "you're", I pronounce it as something like "they-er".

While it started as an American thing, I've seen quite a few South Africans getting it wrong over the last few years - and I think that has to do with the proliferation of American culture into our lives; not only from movies and TV shows, but in general because we interact with Americans more and more on a daily basis.

What do you think? Have you ever misused any of those four words? If so, do you agree with my analysis, that it's the American accent that's the "problem"?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Transport: Premium Children's Colouring Books

Well, it's arrived. "Animals" has done so well, that my wife and I thought we'd speed up the production of our second colouring book together.

This one's called "Transport: Premium Children's Colouring Books":


Cars, bikes, planes, tanks, horses, boats... If your child loves all the different ways we get around, and they love colouring, what are you waiting for? ;-)

Get it at Lulu.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Book Review: The Traveler's Companion by Christopher John Chater


About the Book

After the death of his wife, Dr. Ryan Iverson turned love into a weapon. His creation, Angela, is an android that fools her targets into falling helplessly in love with her. As Deputy Director of Science and Technology at the CIA, his mission is to use Angela to seduce and destroy internationally wanted playboy and illicit travel book writer C.C. Go. His series of books,The Traveler's Companion, is an infamous guide for wealthy hedonists to indulge their every whim. The newest edition, however, only has one destination: the Zone, a place where mind creates matter, where the sick can be healed with a thought, and where a man's fantasies are made manifest. Dr. Iverson may be the only one who understands the potential dangers in a place C.C. Go calls the womb of creation: Reality doesn't stand a chance. 

"Solaris" meets "The Thomas Crown Affair."

My Review (4 / 5 Stars)

Pretty early on in this book, one of the characters postulates that God exists, and announces that he's going to prove it using M Theory.

There are some complicated topics around quantum physics discussed in this book, but I didn't once feel out of my depth - even though quantum physics is a subject that normally confuses the stuffing out of me! I think that's because the author researched his topic extremely well (or he's a physicist himself), and he's extremely good at explaining things in layman's terms.

I won't tell you whether this character succeeded or not, but the basic premise of this book is that a rift has been found between reality and another dimension called The Zone. 

At the same time, the protagonist, a CIA scientist by the name of Dr Iverson is working on an android woman, an artificial intelligence which he hopes to use to capture some of the CIA's most wanted criminals... by making them fall in love with her and divulge all their secrets.

It may sound a bit silly, but I actually found it quite plausible, and the situations quite believable. Other than the odd typo or grammatical faux pas, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters have depth, the settings are well defined, and the plots and subplots are just intricate enough to keep you thinking, but not so much as to bog you down and confuse you.

If you're into science fiction and thrillers (i.e. technothrillers), you won't be disappointed in this book.

Buy the Book

Click here to buy the book from your favourite online retailer.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

"Animals: Premium Children's Colouring Books" has Arrived. And it is Beautiful!

Way back in June, I announced that my wife and I had published a colouring book for children, called Animals: Premium Children's Colouring Books.

I published it through the print-on-demand service, Lulu.com, and ordered proofs.

The proofs finally arrived this past Thursday, and I took some photos. Aren't they beautiful?




I sold one to one of my work colleagues on Friday, for his four-year-old son. He came back to me yesterday (Monday), to say that his son loved it, and has in fact already coloured in two pictures!

Want a Copy?


If you've got young children (up to, I would say, about seven) who enjoy colouring, I urge you to consider picking up a copy.

Right now, you can order copies from Lulu, but in the coming weeks I'm hoping that it will start showing up in more and more online retailers' catalogues, so with any luck you'll be finding it in your favourite store soon!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Who is Shaun du Plessis, and what is Shaun's Table?

Two weeks ago, I posted a giveaway on this blog. Readers could win a free e-book copy of Tales From Virdura.

The giveaway was a success with three entries, and last week I posted the winner on my Twitter account:
The winner is chef Shaun du Plessis, a chef from Gauteng. He runs a website called Shaun's Table, where you can sign up for cooking classes. If you own (or are thinking of starting) a restaurant, he also offers consultations to help your business with kitchen planning, menu costing, and the like.


If you're in Gauteng or Mpumulanga, you should definitely go check him out.

I can't personally vouch for his cooking skills, but anyone who reads my books has got to be an amazing person, right?

Anyway, I am honoured that a chef with his own business chose to enter a giveaway by an insignificant author like me. It seems like things are looking up.

Thanks for your entry, chef!


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Book Review: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

About the Book


Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin's magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords...

My Review (5 / 5 Stars)


I'm thoroughly enjoying this series, but I can't think of anything else to say about it at this point without spoiling anything.

The depth of characters, the complicated and well thought out plots and motivations, the rich detail of the setting... what's not to like?

I will say that a LOT happens in this instalment; more than in either volume before it. And the trend looks set to continue, because according to Wikipedia, each book is longer than the last. I hope this isn't too big of a spoiler, but lots of people die in this one. It's almost as though the author is clearing away some older characters to make way for new ones.

As I intimated earlier, this book IS long, and I'm not the kind of person who can read a whole book series back-to-back. That's particularly true for this one because it's also very intense. I'll be taking a bit of a break before diving into the next book.

Buy Now

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Want Tales From Virdura Free?

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I would be taking a break from social media for a few weeks.

Well, I'm back, and I can now reveal why I was away: my wife and I bought a house!

Yes, that's right. After ten years of living in a third-storey flat, in a complex without a lift, we have a nice big house that we can lose ourselves in. Not only that, but we have an outdoors... and even a pool.

The last two weeks have been spent packing up the flat, and unpacking the house. We still have a look way to go, but we're getting there at least.

The most frustrating part has been (and still is) waiting for Telkom, our only fixed-line telephone provider, to install our new telephone line. They were supposed to come last week Monday. They never pitched, and I'm trying to get hold of them to hear why they didn't pitch, and more importantly to find out when they're going to install the line.

Oh well, while I wait, how would you like the chance to win a free e-book copy of my latest book, Tales From Virdura?


Enter the giveaway below. You have one week. Go!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Update: Didn't win? Not to worry. You can still buy the book. Click here to see all the places where it's available.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Why I Read E-Books

You know, the debate between e-book readers and print book readers borders on religious-level intensity. Even after all these years, it shows no sign of abating.

But one thing I've noticed is that the people who prefer to read print books tend to be the most vocal. Not just vocal, but downright nasty, often going so far as to accuse e-books of being "not real books", and/or the readers of those books as being "not real readers".

Personally, I read e-books exclusively. I haven't read a print book in at least five years. A couple of months ago, I tried, but I just couldn't do it. My eyesight is simply too bad. I can only read during daylight hours, and then not when it's overcast. Even when the conditions are ideal, I struggle to read the print - and it's not practical to go out and buy a large-print version of every book I want to read (even if I could find them).

Since making the switch, I've fallen in love with many of the other advantages of e-reading, too. The built-in dictionary, for one.
Being able to adjust the font size, colour, margins, etc. That's an obvious benefit, that's most often cited. I now prefer to read white text on a black background, and I find the traditional black-on-white very strange. The high contrast is far easier on my eyes. Not to mention the fact that I set the font size up to pretty much as high as it can go.

Of course, there's the knowledge that I'm carrying my entire library - hundreds and hundreds of books - in my pocket wherever I go. And the syncing across devices. I read on my phone throughout the day at work (during smoke breaks, toilet breaks, while waiting for meeting participants, and so on), and nobody needs to know what I'm doing on my phone. Which is just the way I like it because I'm a very private person and I don't like people knowing what I'm doing.

In the evenings, I pick up my 10.1" tablet and start right where I left off.

And to top it all off, I am no longer responsible for any dead trees!

I now read at least twenty times more than I used to before I discovered e-books (for all the reasons I've just mentioned above).

There really is no downside for me!

Having said all that, I'm not going to go around accusing people who like to read print books of being neanderthals, or backwards.

A book is a book. Who cares how you choose to consume it?

And this, of course, isn't even touching on the revitalised audio-book craze. Stephen King's quite fond of those, but I've never been able to get into them.

Everyone, please, can we just calm down and allow each other to enjoy our written entertainment as we see fit?

What do you think? Is there a right or wrong way to read? Please let me know what you think in the comments below. I'd love your input!

Oh, and in other news, I'm taking a bit of an Internet break for the next two weeks or so. I'll be around, but you probably won't be seeing any new blog posts from me until at least 23 August.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

My Billy's Zombie Proof Arrived

About a month ago, I announced the publication of the paperback edition of Billy's Zombie on Lulu.

It's been available on Kindle for almost two years, but I never thought anyone would be interested in a paperback version. Besides, I always thought it was far too short.

Well, I bowed to popular demand last month and put one up for sale. I solved the length problem by including The Witch of Wellington, a story out of my paranormal flash fiction collection, Heaven and Earth.

After putting it up on Lulu, I ordered a proof. It arrived on Friday, and I'm super happy with it:



It's now been approved for distribution, so over the course of the next few weeks, you should find it in online retailers all over the world.

You're welcome!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

How creative can you be in just 81 words?


That's the question asked of a new story sharing site (well, new to me, anyway) called 81words.

The site challenges writers to come up with unique, compelling works of fiction, in exactly eighty-one words. No more, and no less.

Readers can then log in to the site and rate and comment on each story, and the best stories stand a chance of perhaps being published in an anthology one day.

I've started submitting some of my own "81's". It's a lot of fun! Click here to see my submissions, and get rating, commenting, and writing.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Book Review: Mind's Eye by Douglas E. Richards



About the Book


When Nick Hall wakes up in a dumpster--bloodied, without a memory, and hearing voices in his head--he knows things are bad. But they're about to get far worse. Because he's being hunted by a team of relentless assassins. Soon Hall discovers that advanced electronics have been implanted in his brain, and he now has two astonishing abilities. He can surf the web using thoughts alone. And he can read minds. But who inserted the implants? And why? And why is someone so desperate to kill him?

As Hall races to find answers, he comes to learn that far more is at stake than just his life. Because his actions can either catapult civilization to new heights--or bring about its total collapse.

Extrapolated from actual research on thought-controlled web surfing, Mind's Eye is a smart, roller-coaster ride of a thriller. One that raises a number of intriguing, and sometimes chilling, possibilities about a future that is just around the corner.

My Review (4 / 5 Stars)


So this guy wakes up in a dumpster, and discovers he has no idea who he is, where he's from, or how he got there.

He quickly figures out that some very dangerous people are out to kill him, but he doesn't know why. He learns this based on a very strange ability he also realises he has: he can read people's minds.

While on the run, he meets a woman, and a romantic entanglement ensues.

If you think you've heard this story before, you may be right... but you've never heard it like this before!

The tale is woven so beautifully, so effortlessly, that everything feels completely natural, and nothing is forced. I was carried away by this story, and fully believed every scenario presented to me. Even the ending, while maybe a little far-fetched, was perfect. It took me totally by surprise (I did NOT see it coming), but everything was explained so thoroughly, I was left absolutely satisfied.

The writing and editing are flawless too, and there's not a single typo, glitch, or plot issue that I can remember.

This truly is a marvelous book, and my hat's off to the writer.

There's one tiny detail, that caused me to dock a star off my review. The Kindle edition which I read doesn't have a linked table of contents. That's important to me, because it means that my Kindle wasn't able to tell me how much longer I had to go in a chapter. It's not an issue in a print book, where you can easily flip forward a couple of pages and figure it out, but it's almost impossible in an ebook.

But no matter, that's easily fixed. Again, great book. Technothriller fans, stop what you're doing, and go read it. Now.

Buy Now


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

25% Off My Books at the Smashwords July Summer/Winter Sale 2016






From 1 to 31 July, 2016, Smashwords will be holding their annual July Summer/Winter Sale, with massive discounts on e-books.

July is mid-summer in the Northern Hemisphere, but what those northerners often forget, is here in the South, it's the middle of winter. And it is cold!

I love this annual Smashwords event, because I appreciate their inclusivity. So if you, like me, find yourself huddled under a blanket at this time of year, why not read a book?

How it Works

Each book enrolled in the promotion has a coupon code associated with it:
  • SSW25 - For 25% off
  • SSW50 - For 50% off
  • SSW75 - For 75% off
  • SFREE - For 100% off
When you click on a book that's part of the promotion, Smashwords will tell you what coupon code you need to use, and what discount you can get. Click the Buy button, and follow the instructions. Don't forget to fill in the coupon codes when prompted.

My Books

This yeaqr, two of my books are enrolled in the promotion: A Petition to Magic and Stingers. And then of course there's Billy's Zombie, which is free anyway. See below for the links (click the cover or title to visit the book's Smashwords page):

Price $1.49 $1.12
25% off with code SSW25

Queen Celeste rose to the throne of Virdura a month ago, after the sudden death of her mother.

Desperate to prove herself, she agrees to hear the case of a simple farmer who claims a neighbour stole his cow.

To help her in this task, she orders her chief advisor, the royal wizard Solon, to cast a spell and divine the truth for her. Solon, however, is keeping a terrible secret.

Price: $1.79 $1.34
25% off with code SSW25 

Thirteen year old James Clarke is always being picked on in school. He hates sports, and he particularly hates Stingers, a schoolyard game in which children throw tennis balls at each other. The other kids always seem to throw the ball harder, when it's at him. 

One day, James' mom phones the school to try and put a stop to the bullying, but it only gets worse.

Free

Young Billy MacIntyre has always been a weird kid, always taking every little slight to heart.

One day, he decides that he's had enough of the relentless mocking and bullying at school and around town. 

He decides to exact his revenge on all those simpletons who have done him wrong. And he does it by taking a book of Necromancy out of the library, and raising a zombie from the dead!

Other Books on Sale

Besides those books, there are literally thousands of other books in the catalogue, all with discounts ranging from 25% to 100% off. For the full list of books on promotion, click here.





Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The RBTL Tales From Virdura Blog Tour is Over. Were You There?

Phew!

So, my first ever blog tour is over, and I have to say, it was quite a rush. In case you missed any of them, here are the direct links.


Read Between The Lines
The Book Quarry
Andrew Jericho
My World
Ramblings of a Book Nerd
Dante Eternal's Virtual Bookshelf
Between the Pages

Click the links to view the posts, and let me know you did by posting a quick comment. :)

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Animals: Premium Children's Colouring Books

Here's something you may not know about me. Or rather, my wife. She loves putting together colouring books for our nieces and nephews. Be it a birthday, Christmas, or just because, she scours the Internet looking for black and white line drawings. She compiles them, puts them in order, prints them out, and ring-binds them to give to the kids.

It was our three-year-old niece's birthday this month, and of course, she got a colouring book (we bought her a "real" gift, too). When her mother did one of those "Kids' Interview" things with her, and asked her what her favourite book was, she said "The colouring book that Aunty Elmari gave me." That brought a lump to our collective throats, I can assure you!

But it also got us thinking. Maybe we could actually do this. If our nieces and nephews loved their colouring books so much, maybe other kids would, too.

And so, Premium Children's Colouring Books was born. We intend to do a whole series of them, each with a different theme. The first one, Animals, is out now:
This book provides hours of colouring fun for children (and grown-ups) aged three and up.

It's a beautiful A4 colouring book, comprising of 64 crisp white colouring pages. Adult colouring books are all the rage these days, but ironically, the children are being left behind. This one's just for them.

The book is currently available on Lulu for $3.60, but hopefully you'll be able to find it everywhere else online in a few months.

If it's a success, we'll be releasing the next book in the series quite soon (let us know in the comments what you think that next theme should be - cars? sports? something we haven't thought of yet?).

Are you interested? It would be great if, while you wait for it to arrive in your mail, you would go and add it to your Goodreads "Want to Read" shelf. Every little bit helps, to spread the word to as many parents as possible.

So, what do you think? Will this work, or is it just a waste of time and money?

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Book Review: Solomon's Porch by Wid Bastian

About the Book

A prison inmate caught in the crossfire between God and Satan
Peter Carson, a white-collar inmate at a low-level U.S. Federal prison camp, is given a vision by God to be shared with the world. The most unlikely of divine messengers, Peter is prophetically destined to provide the world with hope and miracles and to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Will the prisoner become a prophet?

Backed up by divine intervention, Peter is surprisingly supported by inmates, as well as the warden and famous theologians. Astounding supernatural events begin to take place all around the world, involving even the president of the United States. But Satan is quick to strike back, doing everything in his power to stop Peter from executing God's plan. The world holds its breath as the unbelievable takes place. Will the message be heard?

My Review (3 / 5 Stars)

This is a difficult book to review. I liked the story, but it wasn't anything like any Christian fiction I've read before.

In most Christian fiction, the protagonist believes in God (or comes to believe in God) as a given. He's there, in the background, and characters make their big life decisions prayerfully, trying to discern what God wants in a given situation.

In this book, it's almost as if God Himself is the protagonist, and there isn't a single scene, or practically a single line of dialogue, that doesn't mention Him. It's cool, don't get me wrong, but it took a bit of getting used to at first.

The writing's not great, and the style is often inconsistent. In some places, when a character speaks over multiple paragraphs, the author doesn't close the quotes at the end of each paragraph. In other such cases, he does. All speech is in double quotes, but sometimes, quotes within quotes ALSO use double quotes, and other times, they use single quotes. It makes it difficult sometimes to figure out who is speaking.

There are also some incorrectly used words, or even non-existent words ("alright" is a bugbear of mine - there's no such word).

But what bothered me the most was the author's treatment of swearing. Now, it's plain to me that the author believes that using certain words, in and of themselves, constitutes sinful behaviour. I don't agree with that view by any means, but I can respect it.

The problem is, that these words that the author considers sinful are "starred out", so you see for example, "s***" written in the text. It feels to me as if I'm watching a movie with the audio channel set to "Family". I don't know if you've ever done that, but I find it incredibly distracting, and after a while I just cannot concentrate on the story anymore.

There are plenty of wonderful books out there that don't contain any swear words, and I don't miss them at all. When they're there, but censored, you'd better believe I miss them! Honestly, if you're going to include something in your writing, don't censor it. If you're not comfortable including it uncensored, then don't include it at all.

The other problem with this approach is the subjective way in which the author chooses which words to censor. "Crap" is acceptable, but "shit" is not. "Ass" is censored, but "bitch" and "whore" are apparently quite okay to use, as is the word "nigger".

Seriously, nigger? Last I checked, Amazon refuses to publish reviews containing that word. Maybe Goodreads will too. We'll see after I hit Save.

Now as a Christian, I personally have a big problem with using the Lord's name in vain. I find it far, far worse than the odd "fuck" or "shit", but here, characters spout out "Oh my God" with impunity; even the non-Christians, and nobody rebukes anybody for that.

Other than that language rant, I enjoyed the story. I thought the theology was quite sound, and the ending was brilliant. It wouldn't at all surprise me if things actually did play out exactly that way, when the time comes.

But then, I'm a Christian, and I also take the existence of God as a given. As to a non-Christian? Well, I hope that God moves them to read this book, but I doubt many will. For those that do, I hope they can get past their prejudices, and that it will help bring them to salvation in Christ Jesus.

No, scratch that. I pray that it will. I pray that in all earnest.

Edit: I tried to paste this same review into Amazon, and it wouldn't post. Probably because of the word "nigger".

Buy Now


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Coming Soon: RBTL Blog Tour for Tales From Virdura

As you no doubt know, I've been incredibly busy over the past month or so, promoting the release of my new Flash Fiction collection, Tales From Virdura.

The book was on pre-order all of last month, and it officially released last week, on 1 June. And I'm pleased to announce that I'm going to be featured in a blog tour this month!


From 21 to 28 June, 2016, I will be featured on the following blogs:
If you're going to be online on any of those days, please do me a favour and pop in to say hi. :-)


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

2 Things You Didn't Know About the Kingdom of Virdura

My latest book, Tales From Virdura, releases worldwide tomorrow. It's the second book in the Kingdom of Virdura series, four years after the release of my first book, A Petition to Magic.

Tales From Virdura is not really a sequel to A Petition to Magic, but it's set in the same world, and contains stories about many of the same characters. Here's the blurb:
Explore Virdura, a world full of fantasy, magic, and drama.
Find out what happens when a dashing young farmer's son swoops a neighbouring daughter off her feet.
Meet Queen Tricia and the Royal Wizard Solon. Or Queen Celeste, her daughter, as she continues to struggle to come to terms with her new role as queen after the death of her mother.
Or read about Tobin the Bounty Hunter as he takes down Jarvis, a merciless criminal who brutally slit a blacksmith's throat.
All these stories and more await you in Tales From Virdura, a collection of flash fiction stories that take you deep into the world and the lives of the characters who inhabit it.
If you enjoyed reading A Petition to Magic, this might just be your next read.
You'll find out more about old characters and meet new ones. You'll read prequels and origin stories, and you'll read original stories taking place in new locales within the Kingdom.
This book can be enjoyed as a companion to, or separate from, A Petition to Magic.


In honour of the release, here are two things about the Kingdom that you may not know.

The Kingdom of Virdura was originally going to be known as the Kingdom of Agrianova


That's right: in an early draft of A Petition to Magic, that's what I called it. Boy, am I glad my wife convinced me to change the name. Can you imagine how "Tales From Agrianova" would've sounded?

The Naming of Solon


For those of you who don't know, the name of the Royal Wizard and Queen's Advisor in A Petition to Magic, is Solon.

I've been asked where I came up with the name, because it turned out to be so apt.

Well, to be honest, it happened purely by accident. You see, one of the ways in which I come up with the names of my characters, is to use Behind the Name's Random Renamer. I just click "Generate" a few times, until I find a name that sticks.

That's what happened with Solon. I had no idea at the time that Solon was the name of a famous Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet, but the people who asked me where I'd come up with the name, sure did!

I now agree that Solon is a great name for the Royal Wizard, but just think: he could have just as easily been named Bob!