Tuesday 30 September 2014

Crossword Puzzle - September 2014

So here's a simple challange for you, if you like crosswords. Do this one, before 21 October 2014, and send me your answers to graham@grahamdowns.co.za. The answers will be posted here on this blog, on that date. If you're the first person to send me the correct answers before then, then not only will your name be published in that post, but you can pick any one of my books, and I'll send it to you, absolutely free!

Worth playing for? Well, let's get started:


1 Second letter of Greek alphabet (4)
3 Father Christmas' wobbles when he laughs (5)
8 Beer without hops (3)
9 Chinese religion, often the butt of puns (12)
11 The king of the jungle (4)
12 One million million (8)
14 What's coming to you (3)
15 VI (3)
16 Great, everygreen tree (3)
18 Not cold (3)
19 Breed of dog (8)
22 Hayworth, actress (4)
24 Stuffed steak dish (12)
26 Place in Guild Wars (3)
27 Full of soap (5)
28 Overrule (4)
2 Boredom (5)
3 Payments to help people out (8)
4 Author, Double Occupancy (6)
5 Ex-presenter of The Tonight Show (4)
6 In agreement (3)
7 Eating feaces (4)
10 Places to stay in a fantasy world (4)
13 Worship of material things (8)
17 former American Idol contestant Brittany (4)
18 They're gonna hate (6)
20 Gold (5)
21 Wears glasses, constantly picked on (4)
23 Apple Music Player (4)
25 Commercials (3)

Good luck!

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Crossword Puzzle - August 2014 Answers

Well, hello there,

And do I have some answers for you! ;-)

Herewith, the answers for the August 2014 Crossword Puzzle:

1 Operator of a software package (4) user
3 The end of a cat's foot (3) paw
6 Yoko (3) Ono
9 Zann, Lovecraft character (5) Erich
11 Free of something (3) rid
12 IBM Compatible PC (8) Olivetti
13 No more after (3) end
14 Type of beer (3) ale
17 It's the limit (3) sky
19 Japanese warrior code (7) samurai
22 What 1 Across did (4) used
25 Sixty Minutes (4) hour
26 Sink a ship (7) scupper
27 In the bud (3) nip
29 It doesn't matter which (3) any
31 Small dogs do this (3) yap
33 Powerless (8) impotent
38 Singular (3) one
39 Pale brownish yellow colour (5) ochre
40 What 1 Across does (3) use
41 In the centre (3) mid
42 Highest point (4) apex
1 Card game (3) UNO
2 Preacher in a Methodist church (3) Rev
3 Hole (3) pit
4 What a thespian does (3) act
5 Done to eggs (5) whisk
6 Found deep underground (3) ore
7 Last teen (8) nineteen
8 Strange (3) odd
10 Officiates sports (3) ref
14 Left after a fire (3) ash
15 People from Laos (8) Laotians
16 Flightless Australian bird (3) emu
17 Thus was it written (3) sic
18 Yes (3) yup
20 For holding ashes (3) urn
21 Egyptian viper (3) asp
23 Pamper yourself (3) spa
24 Of a white wine (3) dry
28 Just an expression (5) idiom
30 A rocky peak (3) tor
31 And I (3) you
32 urine (3) pee
34 1101 (3) MCI
35 Doctor of Philosophy (3) PhD
36 Leaves for boiling water (3) tea
37 Male evening-wear (3) tux

I hope you enjoyed the puzzle! Didn't get it right? Well, never fear - there'll be a new one next week. See you then!

Tuesday 16 September 2014

An Automatic Decision

To listen to this story on YouTube, click here

This month's story came from a philosophical question that my brother asked me a few weeks ago, about self-driving cars.

Suppose a self-driving car is driving on a narrow mountain pass, and suddenly perceives a child running across the road. It has only two options:

  1. Plow down the child, and protect the occupant, or
  2. Careen down the barrier, saving the child, but killing the occupant
His two part question: what should the car do, and who should be allowed to make that decision?

This story is my attempt to answer that question. I hope you like it!

"'...Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.'"* Rev Kev read out loud. "What do you think, car? Is that too cheesy?"

The car gave its answer in a typical non-emotional voice, "I would not know, sir."

"Oh, for goodness sake! Call me Kevin. Better yet, call me Rev Kev; everyone else does."

"Very well, Rev Kev," returned the car, mechanically.

Kevin sighed. "On second thought, just call me Kevin."

The good Reverend was preparing to meet with a dear old lady from his congregation, Mrs Carlisle. The poor woman had been diagnosed with terminal, inoperable brain cancer the week before, and Kevin hoped to offer her some comfort.

Rev Kev continued to read his Bible and mutter out loud as the car wound up the narrow mountain pass leading up to Mrs Carlisle's house. At one point, he looked up and said a silent prayer that there would be no-one else on the road; over-taking, or moving over to allow another car to pass, would be impossible.


Ten year-old Jimmy Cox giggled as he ran from the mountain, over the narrow road, and excitedly grabbed hold of the railing that protected against the almost fifty-metre drop to the rocks below. Mommy had told him countless times not to play on the road, but the excitement and adrenaline rush was too much to resist. After almost vaulting himself over the railing for the tenth time in the last half-hour, he turned and began running back towards the mountain.


Rev Kev's car rounded a sharp bend, and he looked up from his Bible.

“Oh God, please no!” he screamed as he saw a young boy running across the road, directly in front of the car.

Time stopped.

Kevin watched as the child was frozen in mid-run, his left foot in the air behind him in an impossible standing position, his right planted on the ground with the toe on the road and the heel in the air. He looked at the speedometer of the car: sixty kilometres per hour, but they weren't moving.

“W-what's going on here?”

“What would you have me do, sir?” asked in the car in that mechanical, emotionless voice. At least, he thought it was the car; perhaps it was God, answering his prayer.

“What do you mean, car? Please, would you explain to me what exactly this is?”

“If I follow my programming, sir, I would protect my occupant above all else. That boy would die. Your God has given you a choice. To save the boy, I would have to turn and drive through the barrier, sending us onto the rocks below.”

“No,” muttered Kevin. His face was white as a sheet, and he was shaking; still trying to come to terms with what was happening. “There must be another way! What about turning towards the mountain instead? Or just applying brakes really hard?”

“The boy is less than twenty metres from us, sir, and we are driving at sixty kilometres per hour.” Kevin could have sworn he heard an exasperated tone in the car's robotic voice. “Either of those options would cause us to spin uncontrollably, and we would strike the child. If we hit the mountain, you would likely die, but the child would almost certainly die in either case.”

Kevin's mouth hung open. Was he really being forced to make such a choice? But perhaps, he reasoned, he should rather thank God for giving him a choice that precious few people would be given.

“Well,” he stammered. He hooked his finger under his collar (which had suddenly become very tight), and pulled it away from his neck. “I have lived a full life. I gave that life to God and His Son many years ago. I have no regrets, and I know where I am going when I die. I do not know where that boy's beliefs lie, or that of his family's.

“I'm ready, car. Take me to be with the Lord.”

“Very well, sir.”

The car's speedometer returned to life, and the needle bounced erratically. The boy turned in mid-step, saw the car speeding towards him, screamed and fell on his face. Rev Kev heard the screeching of the car's tyres as it jolted to the right and crashed through the barrier.

As the car fell to the jagged rocks below, Kevin heard a voice in his head, much kinder than the car's had been: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Tonight, you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Image: "MUTCD R2-1". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MUTCD_R2-1.svg#mediaviewer/File:MUTCD_R2-1.svg

* Deuteronomy 31:6

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Cover Reveal: Billy's Zombie, Coming Halloween 2014

Last month, I told you about my new story called Billy's Zombie. It's coming in Halloween 2014, and that it will be completely free!

I also promised a cover reveal soon. Well, wait no longer, loyal readers. Here it is, the beautifully stunning cover of my upcoming release, Billy's Zombie:

Ain't it pretty?

I also promised you another excerpt. Well, instead of making you click back and forth between the old one and this one, I'm going to repost the old excerpt, and then extend it slightly. What do you think of this?

That's my creation down there. Do you see?

Shambling along the empty suburban street, in the middle of the night. Past the parked car to its left. To its right, a dog lies on his back. He rolls over onto his feet, hackles raised, and barks as he sees the creature. The creature turns its grotesque countenance towards the animal and glares at him. The poor thing cowers as his brave bark becomes a pathetic whimper.

Look, now it's standing under a lonely street light. Through this crystal ball, you can truly appreciate its beauty, with its clothes tattered and muddy, and the grave worms still crawling in and out of its empty eye sockets. My creation.

When I went to the cemetery last night, with an old copy of Contemporary Necromancy under my arm, I could never have imagined that the ritual would be such a success. I stood at the grave of old Jacob Mallardy (1955 — 2012), thumbed open the book, and eagerly paged to the spell on Raising Zombies. I'm not sure how well I expected the spell to work (if at all), but as I read the incantation out loud, the hairs on my arms and the nape of my neck stood on end, and I felt power. As the power rose in me, the dirt covering the corpse's grave began to shift. Slowly it shifted, so slowly I thought it might just be the wind, or my imagination. Then the turf broke, and a hand slipped through. A glorious, wonderful hand, the skin on the long, slender fingers all wrinkled, ripped in places so that the bones shone through, almost glinting in the moonlight.

My creation.

My name is Billy MacIntyre, and that is no longer Jacob Mallardy, down there. I am a Necromancer, and they will all pay for calling me a freak.

So what do you think is going to happen? Well, you'll have to wait until 30 October to find out. Unless... and here's where I remind you of this awesome, never to be repeated deal.

Sign up for my newsletter between now and 30 September, and you will receive a special, limited edition, pre-launch copy of the story, a full week before release!

That's right, simply enter your e-mail address into the box below, wait for my e-mail, and let me know which format you would like to read the story in (e-book formats only, I'm afraid; no print).

Since last month, I've been asked by my existing newsletter subscribers what if they're going to be left out. Well, never fear! All my existing newsletter subscribers will receive an e-mail from me sometime during the first week of October, asking them to confirm in which format they would like to receive the book. Don't anybody ever tell me that I'm not fair!

Monday 1 September 2014

Buy a Book, Support Retina South Africa

The blog post comes a day early this week, because I believe that this message is rather important to get out:

I'm not sure how many of my readers know this, but I am a sufferer of Retinitis Pigmentosa, a hereditary eye condition that destroys peripheral vision and causes night blindness.

There is currently no cure, and that's where organisations like Retina South Africa (and others around the world) come in: not only do they provide moral support for sufferers, they contribute money towards raising awareness, and to research efforts to develop a cure.

This month (September) is World Retina Month, and this year, I've decided to do my little bit to help. So, if you buy either Heritage of Deceit or Stingers from Smashwords, between Monday 1 September, and Tuesday 30 September, I will donate R10 to Retina South Africa!

What's that, you say? You've already read both? Why, that's no problem at all! If you enjoyed them, why not buy them as gifts for a friend, and spread the love? Then, if your friend also enjoys the book, get them to keep the chain going and gift it to their friends, too!

Click on a cover below, to go directly to the book's page at Smashwords:

Heritage of Deceit Stingers
In summary: for the month of September 2014, I will donate R10 to Retina South Africa for every copy of either Heritage of Deceit or Stingers sold at Smashwords! Please help me support this worthy cause.

If you are a citizen of South Africa, you can also donate R10 to Retina South Africa, by sending an SMS containing the word DREAM to 38267.