Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Wacky Third Reich

A small collection of photographs that I’ve gathered to show that, in between invading most of Europe, torturing and enslaving the populations of those countries, murdering millions of innocents, and bombing my Nan, the Nazis were actually a pretty fun loving bunch. You’ve probably seen the final photograph before. It’s my particular favourite, because of the kitten.


Pioneers in Defence Drill, 1937

1128-620x445Andrew Hinkinson-Hodnett posted this photograph on his blog, which has prompted me to bring it out again. It is VERY curious and oddly creepy. In fact, it was taken in Leningrad in 1937 by Viktor Bulla and shows “Pioneers in Defence Drill”. Bulla’s photograph of hundreds of children wearing gas masks wasn’t intended to be ghoulish, a commentary on war or on lost innocence, but rather to instil pride that the country was blessed with well-trained, well-equipped and courageous young fighters.

Verdict – Free Warren Peace eBook Weekend

104In case you were away, let me just tell you that I made Warren Peace available on Kindle free of charge for three days around my birthday, the aim being to increase readership and get my name as an author more widely known. This is what happened. (Let me first say that I adore those of you who went and bought a copy of the book earlier. You are true fans and supporters and I want to have your babies).

OK, my overall impression of the free promotion? Vague disappointment mixed with delight at my Twitter family. Over the three days that the book was free I bombarded Twitter, Facebook, G+ and Goodreads with (as I thought) varied and amusing reminders. I was given sterling help in publicising the offer by many followers, which warmed my heart, and for which they have my undying thanks. Chief among these, and deserving of particular mention, is @MrsAshborosCat who never stopped working in Cuetip’s cause. I also received greatly appreciated assistance from more high profile followers, such as Nicky Campbell, Sharon Corr, Steve Baxter and Norman Lovett. These lovely people hare followed by tens of thousands – their pimping could only increase uptake significantly, surely.

Despite all of the above, however, downloads remained comparatively low. I can only conclude that the general public don’t like either rabbits or punning titles. Perhaps too everyone thought the book was a Watership Down rip-off – an easy mistake to make. I suppose I might also conclude that I design crap covers. On top of all that, I did make a few mistakes during the weekend, such as failing to ask some folk who I’m sure would have helped, and being in an unaccountably bad mood on Saturday night. Maybe my gin had gone off.

In the end I was disappointed that the take-up didn’t get close to a thousand, with roughly 900 free copies downloaded. Most of these were in the UK, with a fair wodge in the US. Four German and two Japanese stalwarts also added to the total, bless them. Don’t for a second think that I don’t love those 900 people of taste with all my heart, and clasp them metaphorically to my bosom.

chartA further wish of mine was that at least the book might briefly poke its nose into the Top 100 Free Downloads chart on Amazon, and it got mighty close to that, reaching a high of #104. Mind you, it did climb to Number Two in the “Action & Adventure” category, only kept off the top by a true classic – Treasure Island. There’s a joke there somewhere about the book being a number two.

So, was it worth giving away the Kindle version of Warren Peace? Hell yeah, for all these reasons:

    • I did reach new readers and new followers, who are all lovely people.
    • I was given immense help by my Twitter family, which warmed my heart.
    • I learned a lot from my mistakes for any future event.
    • Several more people reviewed the book, all of them very complimentary.
    • We had a lot of fun over the three days talking about the book.
    • New followers FINALLY took me over my old glass ceiling of 1900, off which number I’d been bouncing for nine months.

I have two more days of Free Promotion available before I drop the book out of KDP Select (and I will do that, so that I can make an ePub copy available) – maybe I’ll offer it as a Christmas present to those who were unconscious this time round. And the next book? I’m thinking of calling it “Sex”. That’ll sell, surely? (I’m not really going to call it that).

Thanks again to everyone who helped.

Another year down (a drunken ramble)

scan0039Sixty one years, eh? How the fuck did that happen? I remember when I was in my Twenties saying that if I made it into my Sixties, that’d do. That’d be old enough, too old, I’d be happy to die then. Well sod you, you insufferable priggish arse of long ago. You know nowt.

In my time I’ve seen post-war rationing, the rise of women’s rights, a sharp decline in persecution of gay people, and the complete transformation of meaning in the word ‘gay’ itself. I’ve seen The Beatles play live and got drunk with The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. I watched Kirk Douglas gurn across the big screen of Rawmarsh Regal Cinema in The Vikings in 1959, and owned a Man From Uncle membership card. I remember pounds, shillings and pence. I remember farthings.

scan0014 (2)I wore love beads in the late Sixties, gawped at the moon landing as it happened, and was at the heart of the rise of punk in London a decade later. I watched England win the World Cup Final in 1966. I remember McDonalds first appearing in Britain. I gasped as fire blazed across the skies above the Rossendale valley at the turn of a millennium.

00 wombat99I married an amazing woman, and raised two other amazing women in their turn. I suffered under Thatcher (sidebar: the current Tories are FAR worse) and marched in protests against her government’s selfishness. I was involved with computing at the beginning of the internet.

And so much bloody more. A whole motherfucking maelstrom of experience that’d make your ears bleed taken all at once, and you know what? I want more. I’m not ready to piss off just yet, so the twatmonger that I was back in the mid-Seventies can piss off and play his pseudy Soft Machine records. Life is beautiful. I’m going to hang about a bit yet.


My thanks to the delightful @lottedh for the picturePlease invite all your family, friends, neighbours, Twitter followers, that nice Mr. Henderson from the corner shop, and everyone else in your world.

To celebrate my birthday this year, I’ll be giving you all a present. Starting on Friday 26th October and running through to Sunday 28th October for three whole days, the e-book Kindle version of my first novel Warren Peace will be downloadable for FREE from all Amazon Stores online, the world over.

If you haven’t got your copy yet, then here’s the perfect chance for you to grab it for nowt. My birthday hope is to see Warren Peace get into the top 100 in the free downloads chart. It’d be heart-warmingly splendid if we could do that over the weekend, but I’ll need all your help. Please tell ALL your friends about it, RT the hell out of it on Twitter, and maybe – just maybe – we can do it together.

Why am I pimping the book out in this way? To get more people to read, obviously. I hope that new readers will enjoy the book and that they’ll tell their friends, and recommend me as an author. It’s about getting my rather silly name known by more people as someone worth reading.

You can read real REVIEWS of the book here. Please, if you do download the book and have fun with it, consider also leaving a positive review and spread the good word as payback. No pressure, though.
Oh, and if you don’t have a Kindle, fret you not, young warrior. You can get a free Kindle reading app for a huge variety of alternative devices. See the link at the bottom. Of the blog post, I mean, not my bottom. That would be absurd.

“Influenced more by Seven Samurai, Zulu and Joss Whedon than by Watership Down, Warren Peace is a novel about talking animals, but definitely not for smaller children. It will grab both your heart and your funny bone and shake them silly”


The Facebook Event (‘attend’ to get reminders and updates): CLICK JUST HERE
The Goodreads Event (ditto): CLICKEZ ICI (oh yeah, multilingual)
Warren Peace at Amazon UK: CLICK HERE
Warren Peace at Amazon US: CLICKY CLICKY
Kindle app for your not-a-Kindle device: CLICK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

My Warren Peace

alliterativeRemember the prize I offered for my favourite of the photos you submitted for “My Warren Peace”? The pics, few though there were, were all ace, and I love that you actually bothered to indulge me.

That being the case, EVERYONE who sent me a pic will get a namecheck within the story of “Amnesia”, even if it’s just as a minor character.

The winner would have been @dawbes In The Bath (cos hey, naked), but she already has a part in the tale. Therefore, step forward @alliterative, with the bunny ears and cheeky grin. Mark gets to have a major character named after him. *applause*.

avensarah My Sunday pic—me, my bunny, and my Warren Peace









jeffreysspsmith Had to borrow it back to photograph it, with the addition of a wabbit watercolor. Janice Warren Peace








lottedh 2dawbes








scullyscully The rabbits in this house love mrsashboroscat here’s my entry, best I could manage


cropbooksReal reviews of “Warren Peace” from real readers. Click the links over on the right there to buy a copy –

“These are rabbits that kick and bite . . . and, when occasion permits, wriggle their bottoms suggestively”

“Relatable characters (yes, even though they are rabbits!) and laugh out loud quips will keep this charming story with you after you have read the last page”

“Beautifully written, interesting, funny, emotional, inspiring story”

“Funny, rollicking, and quite emotional”

“I laughed, I cried. I cheered!”

“Such a wonderfully written story”

“If you want to be amused and entertained, teased and charmed, by a writer with a beautiful ear for accents, a sly humour, and a fascinating line on the mysticism of cats, then I thoroughly recommend giving this book a try”

“Wommers’ opus is a joyous thing, cracking read, cannot recommend it highly enough”

AHA! Breakthrough joy & a spurt of ideas.

2664274Yes, I know, ew, but read on. Although I have the main structure and narrative of “Amnesia” (working title by the way, that will probably change) mapped out, I only have a rough idea sometimes of how to get from one milestone to the next. For instance, you’ll know the state of play at the end of Chapter 2 if you’ve read it. I’ve been stuck on how I get from there to the next plot milestone in Chapter 4. Just spent two days trying to make it work while avoiding clichés. This afternoon I gave up for a while and watched my favourite film, Brief Encounter and suddenly the answer came to me. It was like unstoppering a bottle – a whole splurge of ideas came gushing out, so that if I’m not careful what was supposed to be Chapter 4 will now be pushed back to Chapter 6. I’ll see in time, as will you if you read the book when I publish it.
So now it’s full steam ahead once more… except I’m going away for a few days tomorrow and don’t know how much chance I’ll get to write. My fingers will be itching to get these ideas down, too.
And the Giveaway for a signed copy of Warren Peace ends on Saturday also, but I’ll have to wait until Sunday to discover where I’m sending the signed copy, since I’ll have no internet.
Ah well, what doesn’t kill us etc etc.

Separated by a common language

Until some American friends read “Amnesia” chapter 1 it never occurred to me that I had written anything that needed to be deciphered. I was wrong. Here are their comments after reading, on Englishisms they didn’t get, and I’m sure there are more:

* roundabout – “we do have these in the US, but they are pretty rare. No idea how they work”
* B & Q – “what’s this? Is it like a hardware store?”
* ranks of trees – “no explanation needed, probably, but I loved that and we don’t say that here!”
* windscreen – “is that the front window of a car? we call that a windshield”
* brown jumper – “a jumper is a little girl’s dress. I hope the hero wasn’t wearing one of those”
* trainers – “a wild guess: sneakers?”
* sgion dubh – “WTF?”
* the Queen/snail thing – “I could go look up a photo of your money, I suppose…”
* Sam Kidd – “should I know who that is even if I’m not from the UK? sounds familiar…”
* Meriva – “we have no Merivas over here or did you just make up a name for a car?”
* AA – “Auto Association? We have Triple A over here – American Automobile Association”
* Grynigg Farm/Red Kite Feeding Centre – “huh?”
* road fund license – “I’m thinking that may be the equivalent to our registration stickers that have to be kept current”
* Maltesers/honeycomb – “figured out it was a type of candy that you can stick your tongue through as you’re eating it”
* boot – “we call the back of a car the trunk but I do know you say boot because of all your sales you go to”

Blimey. Now, I don’t want to dilute the essential English nature of the story, but it should be easy enough to make some cosmetic changes that are acceptable both sides of the Atlantic without doing that. Using ‘sweater’ instead of ‘jumper’ for example, or ‘lights’ in place of ’roundabouts’. They’ll just have to do what I did for ‘sgion dubh’ though – get off their bums* and look it up.


Bolt – the new tale, chapter 2

Amnesia picMy mind was as foggy as the atmosphere. I shook my head violently, and realised that I was once again on my no doubt unremarkable backside in the sodden undergrowth. There was a brief whooshing noise in my left ear. I tapped the ear once or twice with my palm to clear it. What the hell had that been? A dream? A hallucination? And why was I sitting down again? Maybe I’d blacked out for a moment?
Wait, hang on a tick. If my mind was playing tricks (which, let’s face it, was a bit of a given since I could remember sweet fanny adams about myself), maybe I’d also imagined the bloody stumps and blue extremities of the corpse in the car boot.
I struggled back upright, and looked again in the back of the Meriva. Nope. The boot still resembled Sweeney Todd’s kitchen. She was still there, staring at nothing. This was actually properly real. Head, torso, two arms, three legs….. wait, what? I looked again. There were three legs. And there was something else. One of the mystery woman’s arms was hairy, muscular… and black.
My senses were whirling so much that it actually took me a few seconds to figure out that the body pieces came from different people rather than a weird grotesque. Blimey.
What the HELL was going on? The woman’s face was awful to look at. Blue lips, blank expression, and a dark fluid – presumably blood – that had leaked from her mouth and nostrils and the ragged edge of the severed neck.
One of the arms was slim, and apparently female, while the other was muscular, hairy, with black skin. The legs were all female, two of them severed fairly cleanly mid-thigh, while the third appeared to have been ripped with extreme force from its parent leg at the knee. No clean cuts there. My stomach lurched, but the chocolate stayed down.
I examined the woman’s torso – possibly it belonged to the head, but really, how could you tell? I wasn’t about to do a gruesome jigsaw puzzle to find out the answer. Nice tits I thought, then Ew please, STOP perving over dead tits before directing my reluctant gaze between the woman’s thighs.
Just above the fine pubic hair, over towards the hip, there was a small tattoo. I bent for a closer look, and got that short, sharp whooshy sound again – PHSSH, like that. Only this time it seemed outside my head. Fingering my ear, I thought that I’d better give myself a good rest as soon as I got the chance. Not bend over so quickly for a while. Maybe use that earwax remover.
The tattoo was a complicated affair. Let’s see if I can describe it. Imagine two wigwams, one inside the other. The larger has curly poles sticking out of the top. Now imagine all that upside-down, and with a big ‘V’ superimposed over the bottom. Got it? No, I didn’t think so. Complicated, see?
PHSSH again, but this time followed by a loud THONK as something heavy embedded itself in the raised boot-door. It took me a few moments, but aided by a sudden mental image of Conrad Phillips as William Tell in the late Fifties, I recognised what the thing was. It was a crossbow bolt. Fucksake, somebody was firing a crossbow at me. A sodding crossbow!
I’d had enough of this. I yelled as loudly as I could.
“Will you the FUCK stop doing that and tell me what the TWAT is going on?”
PHSSH! A bolt sliced through my unremarkable brown sleeve and ripped a gobbet of flesh from my left arm, above the elbow. Agony convulsed me for a second, then the adrenalin kicked in, and I was legging it like buggery up the track through the trees, blindly charging into the fog, away from the source of danger and deeper into the wood.
“Stuff this fog! THIS WAY! HE’S OVER HERE AND HE’S RABBITING!” screamed a female voice behind me.
I was running as fast as the boggy ruts beneath my feet allowed, heading… well, who the sweet Baby G. cared where? Just away from whoever wanted to sink nasty great chunks of metal into me.
“HE’S UP THE TRACK! COMING YOUR WAY, SIR!” screeched Mrs. Crossbow again behind me.
Oh yes. Thanks for the warning, dear – I immediately swerved off the track, where I was obviously still visible despite the fog, and smashed through a hedge and a tangle of undergrowth into a wide knee-high swathe of dripping nettle and dock. The far side was hidden in the murk, but I ploughed ahead regardless. My trousers were quickly sodden, and the greenery dragged at my rapidly tiring legs. I concentrated hard on not falling over tree roots and… what are they called? Tussocks, that’s it. Anyway, I didn’t fall over any, and continued to stumble through both nettles and the fog like a wounded animal. My arm hurt like bloody hell, and was wet and warm where I clutched at the wound with my right hand. Blood seeped through my slippery fingers.
Now imagine for a moment, dear reader, as I breathlessly forge my way through the nettles, heart a-pounding, that you have just woken up, not in your own comfy bed, not in your own familiar house, not anywhere that you even recognise. You don’t know what city you’re in. Hell, you don’t even know what country you’re in. Then with an idle glance to one side you’re confronted by a scene that’s horribly gruesome and really rather icky. That would upset you, right? And then on top of that, some turdbasket turns up and tries to fucking kill you. Go on, imagine – if it was you – how would you feel? Dead right, you would. You’d be terrified, baffled, panicky, dumbstruck, jumpy as hell, acting on impulse and on instinct without any forethought at all. All of those things. And on top of all that, I’d only gone and got shot in the arm!
Sorry. I digress. I just wanted you to truly appreciate how I felt at that moment, and how very much I wasn’t thinking or looking ahead. Anyway, back to me, breathlessly forging my way through the nettles, heart a-pounding.
A darker wall of murk ahead told me that I was almost across the comparatively open stretch of nettles. I could hear voices, male and female, echoing strangely in the fog close behind. I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what they were saying. I pictured them about to break through the bushes that I’d crashed my way past a few seconds earlier. The fog would help hide me a little, that was true, yet I desperately needed to stay out of their line of sight.
If only I could avoid offering a target long enough to think of some way to lose them without leaving a trail of crushed vegetation and blood that they could easily follow. I briefly considered climbing a tree, but I doubted that I’d manage to get very high, given the excruciating pain now radiating from my wounded arm.
Maybe I would come across a busy road, or a friendly house, or… I don’t know… a network of hidden caves and tunnels or something. Yes I know, you’re absolutely right, I wasn’t thinking at all straight. I was dizzy, and starting to become delirious at this point. I wished with all my fibre to find something – anything – to help throw the hunters off my trail.
Nearly across now. Keep going. Almost there.
I frantically leapt at a tall screen of bindweed and hawthorn as it loomed out of the fog right in front of my face. Luckily my momentum was enough to carry me all the way through to the other side, rather than having me caught up in a tangle of branches to be easily discovered and, presumably, slaughtered.
My short relief at putting another, albeit slight, barrier between me and the hunters was swiftly curtailed as I realised that I was airborne. Remember when I said earlier that I wasn’t looking ahead? The ground had fallen away steeply and immediately on the other side the hawthorn and, rather like the coyote in a Road Runner cartoon, my momentum had taken me some way past the cliff edge.
Whimpering helplessly, I plummeted through the roiling fog.

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