Tuesday 29 September 2015

Crossword Puzzle - September 2015

This month, I have a really quick and easy crossword puzzle for you.

If you can solve it, e-mail me the answers before Tuesday, 20 October 2015. That's day on which I will post the answers to this blog. If you're the first person to send me the correct answers before then, I'll mention your name in that post.

Sound simple enough? Go!



1 Using animals to treat medical conditions (10)
3 On which a gun is mounted (6)
6 Jones (4)
8 To get married (3)
9 Yoko (3)
10 Independent (4)
12 Left-handed (6)
13 Sun City (10)


1 Nothing (4)
2 Tethered (5)
4 Author of When Twins War (4)
5 One of the two longest rivers flowing entirely within Wales (4)
6 Christmas Carol (4)
7 Cluster or sequence of notes or chords used in a song (4)
9 That special quality (5)
11 What a pity! (4)

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Crossword Puzzle - August 2015 Answers

Okay, so I just know you've all been tearing your hair out trying to solve the August 2015 crossword puzzle, haven't you?

Well, tear no more: the answers are in!



1 Era (5) epoch
2 Ballroom dance (5) waltz
6 Wife of a nobleman between a count and a duke (8) marquise
10 Discount South African retail chain (3) pep
11 Edible kernel inside a hard shell (3) nut
12 Kiss kiss (4) mwah
14 Omega (3) end
16 Female sibling (3) sis
19 Fey, actress (4) Tina
22 Tac toe (3) Tic
24 Apple computer (3) Mac
25 WWII fighter plane (8) Spitfire
26 Drop him (fly my balloon) (5) pilot
27 Exert downward force (5) press


1 Active hostility (6) enmity
2 Sadness (3) woe
3 Patch of grass in front of a house (4) lawn
4 Lively (5) zesty
5 Seen from your balcony (4) view
7 Turkish brandy (5) rakis
8 At the very top (6) upmost
9 Get a massage here (3) spa
13 Having six rays (6) hexact
15 Capital of India (5) Delhi
17 Shorts worn as underwear (6) boxers
18 Remove all your clothes (5) strip
20 Demon (3) imp
21 Hit it with a hammer (4) nail
23 Medieval hood (4) cowl
25 Take a load off (3) sit

New puzzle coming next week. See you then!

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Tales from Virdura: A New Queen

Jacob, constable of the Queen’s Guard at Virdura Castle, whistled softly to himself, as his feet pounded the cobblestones. It was a nice night in the city: the sky was clear, and the moon as high, full, and bright.

Over the past few months, the city had been very quiet. After the way that Queen Celeste had dealt with the fraud, Marcus, the people respected her. Everybody knew the new status quo. There were laws, and they were going to be upheld. The queen was going to see to it personally.

A woman’s scream penetrated the pleasant silence of the evening. Such sounds used to be quite commonplace here, but Jacob had not heard one for so long that he had almost forgotten what it sounded like, when a woman screamed in distress.

Jacob ran in the direction of the scream. It wasn’t long before he came across the source. A burly man, hovering over a woman, lying prone on the ground. He spied something in the man’s hand, glinting in the moonlight. A dagger, by the looks of it.

“You there, stop, by order of the Queen of Virdura!” yelled Jacob, as he unsheathed his sword and ran towards the man. The man stood up straight, turned around, and laughed.

“Fancy running into you here, you old dog,” he said.

Jacob recognised the man, Joseph, as one who grew up in Virdura. As young boys, Joseph was rather fond of chastising and humiliating Jacob in front of his friends.

Joseph had been getting himself into trouble ever since. In fact, the constable had run him out of the city almost a year before, for a crime he could not even remember.

“Joseph,” said the constable. “I don’t know what you’re doing back in Virdura, but I suggest you lower your dagger and back away.”

Joseph twisted his face into an expression of mock confusion. “Oh, come on, copper,” he said. “I was just having a little fun. Since when is having your way with a local peasant girl against the law?“ He spat on the ground as he said this, and his spittle landed a short distance from the woman’s face. She was shaking and sobbing, obviously too afraid to move.

“You’ve been gone a while,” answered Jacob, “but you should know: there’s a new queen in Virdura, and she will not stand for such things.”

“Not like Queen Tricia, you mean? Pity. Now there was a beauty – I’d have loved to have gotten under her skirt, I can tell you. Well, no matter, Jacob. I suggest you back away. This wench is mine.”

Joshua lunged at the constable with his dagger. Jacob, sword in hand, easily parried it away. More than parried: the sword hit the blade so hard that it flew out of Joshua’s hand. The constable quickly retaliated, and ended with the point of his sword pressed up against Joshua’s neck. The scoundrel took a step back, let loose a terrible, inhuman growl, and charged at Jacob. But Jacob, sidestepping the charge, stuck out his foot and tripped Joshua, who landed face first on the cobblestones.

Jacob walked forward, and pressed the tip of his sword into the back of the man’s neck this time. “I told you Joshua,” he said, “there’s a new queen in Virdura.” Then he turned his head, and started to ask if the woman was all right. By the time he had finished his sentence, though, she had gotten up and scurried away.

Jacon scratched his chin with his free hand. Not even so much as a thank you. He smiled. Yes, there was a new queen in Virdura.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Are you on QuarterReads? Do you know what a Quarter is?

Do you know what the coins on the right are? I didn't.

It turns out that those are called "quarters", a denomination of American currency denoting twenty-five US cents. I've heard of quarters before, obviously, from American movies, television, and books, but I'd never actually seen one, except in pictures - and in fact, today's the first day I've ever even seen that. If, like me, you were born and raise outside of the United States, chances are you can say the same.

According to Wikipedia, the coin was first struck in 1796, and continues to be in common circulation today.

I find that extremely interesting, because I'm not sure how many other currencies have a denomination equating to a quarter of their base unit. In South Africa, at least, our coin deonimations are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2, and R5. We used to have 1c and 2c pieces as well, and they're still legal tender, but no more have been struck for at least five years.

All About QuarterReads

So why is the existence of the US quarter important? Well, because there is a new readers' site out there, devoted to short stories and flash fiction. It's called QuarterReads, and although the name may only really be significant to people living in the United States, I think the concept is really cool.

Here's how it works: When you first visit the site, you are greeted with a homepage listing the top stories there, which you can filter by category. You can also search for authors, story titles, or tags (extra words that the authors chose to further categorise their stories), or you can browse their growing list of authors and tags.

When you've found a story that you think is interesting, you click on the title, and the site gives you the first couple of lines to whet your appetite. If you decide that you'd like to read the story, you need to spend something called a "Read", which is worth one US quarter.

To get started, you need to spend a minimum of $5, which gives you twenty "Reads". You can purchase these using either PayPal, or a debit or credit card. After which, you'll be given the opportunity after reading the free sample of any story, to spend a Read and read the rest of it.

See? I told you it was a really cool concept!

I have a profile there, and for now, I've split up the individual stories in my latest release, Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash Fiction, and put them up on QuarterReads. There's also one other story at the moment, but I plan to add others soon.

Sound like a good deal? Well, click here to visit my QuarterReads writer profile, sign up, charge up, and start reading!

Tuesday 1 September 2015

I Am a South African Author

Pinch and a punch for the first of the month!

I've been doing some thinking lately. I am a South African author. I was born in South Africa, and I was raised in South Africa. The furthest I've ever been out of the country was to Swaziland with my wife, for our honeymoon. Other than looking at the exchange rate (a poor indicator, to be sure), I have no real concept of what a US Dollar is worth, or what a Pound Sterling is worth, or what any other country's currency is worth to the average citizen of that country. I only know what a Rand is worth.

And yet, thus far, the vast majority of my books have been sold in the US or UK, in Dollars and Pounds. That's a bit ironic, and also a little unfair.

So I decided today, to showcase some of the places where my books are available in South Africa, starting with the paperbacks:



Exclusive Books

My books are also available at Exclusive Books, which is a large bookstore in South Africa, with both physical sites, and online stores:

Exclusive Books


And finally we have Alibris. It's not strictly a South African store, but they do have the ability to quote prices in South African Rand:



On the e-book side, there aren't any actual South African companies selling my books. I guess this is because e-books have yet to really take off in South Africa, and as yet there aren't any stores here selling indie e-books. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments below, and I'll do my best to try and get my books available there.

In the meantime, there are two sites which are quoting prices in Rands, similar to Alibris above. They are Kobo and Inktera:




A Petition to Magic at Inktera Heritage of Deceit at Inktera Stingers at Inktera Bily's Zombie at Inktera Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash Fiction at Inktera


If you've been looking for all the links to where you can buy my books in South African Rands... you're welcome!

If you know of any other places where you can buy my books online, please feel free to let me know in the comments below. Oh, and do also let me know if you're aware of any South African sites that sell independently published e-books, and I'll do my very best to get them available there.