Monthly Archives: June 2014

Crow’s Map: an excerpt from Cutthroats & Curses

Cutthroats and Curses

Here’s a quick excerpt for you from one of my stories in the thrilling pirate anthology, Cutthroats & Curses, which you can buy for your Kindle RIGHT NOW! (US readers click here).

“Oh, then that’s fine,” the Captain said, cheering up. “Right, let’s have a look at this map you got for me.”

Crow pushed aside his bowl of rum and rolled out on the rickety table a crackly old parchment. He and the Captain bent over it, peering intently in the dim, pungent glow cast by the sputtering gull-lamps that were the only source of light in The Dirty Doxy tavern.

The Isle of the Drowned?” the Captain read, “Why do you always want to take us to some doom-laden place or other? When are we going to go on a day trip to The Valley of Happy Unicorns, eh?”

Crow said nothing. He knew better than to bring up again the matter of the unicorn with the wonky horn. That was a sure way to get the Captain tediously wittering on for hours about old adventures.

“And what, you scab, are these numbers?” the Captain continued.

“Cap’n, it really is beyond time you learned how to navigate – you know, what with being a ship’s captain and all. Those numbers show the location of the island. Latitude and longitude.”

“Latitude and longitude be buggered. I can’t do everything, can I? That’s why I pay you to steer the ship. I’m far too busy scheming and planning to get involved in every little detail. I’m the brains of this outfit, Crow.”

Crow took out his glass eye, gave it a polish and opened his mouth to speak.

“Don’t even think of saying what’s in your head,” the Captain interrupted, removing his tricorn hat ready to wallop Crow should the first mate utter one wrong word.

“I love my Captain,” said Crow. Mollified, the Captain put his hat back over his greasy hair.

“Hmm,” growled the Captain, peering once more at the map. “There aren’t many landmarks on this, are there? What’s this say here?”

“Ah now, that’s where we’d land. Sudden Death Cove.”

The Captain gave Crow a look and took off his hat once more.

“No, no! Listen,” Crow explained hastily, “The skinny bloke reckoned that this map would lead us to treasure. Buried here, where there’s a big ‘X’, near this pool that feeds down into the bay.”

“What does the ‘X’ stand for? Oh hell, it’s not ‘xylophones’, is it? Not much call for xylophones along the Skull Coast. No wait, it’s ‘xenopus’, isn’t it? You want me to load the Little Mavis with xenopusses.”

“No, no, no, the—” Crow began, then paused. “What the flaming hell is a xenopus?”

“African clawed frog. Produces eggs in response to the urine of a pregnant woman. Used for pregnancy testing.”

“Oh,” said Crow, pausing for a moment to consider the odd mind of his captain. “No, it does not indicate the location of a xenopus. The ‘X’ doesn’t stand for anything. It just marks the spot where the treasure is buried.”

“Then why didn’t they put a ‘T’, for ‘treasure’? That would make much more sense.”

“I don’t know why they didn’t put a ‘T’,” sighed Crow, “It doesn’t matter why they didn’t put a ‘T’. What matters is that the skinny feller said that here,” Crow’s grimy fingernail indicated a scratchy ‘X’ in the centre of the map, “is a treasure more valuable than gold coin.”

“Don’t give me that malarkey. What on earth could be more valuable than gold?”

“I don’t know. Lots of things.” Crow struggled to think of an example. The Captain was a big one for examples.

“Maybe…” Crow said, off the top of his head, “Right, how about a hat that made you invisible, so you could go wherever you liked without being seen –– merchant shops, inns, anywhere – think of the potential for profit in that.”

The Captain’s eyes drifted upwards to gaze at the dark smoky roof as he considered this, and a smile appeared in the middle of his bushy dreadlocked beard.


“The point is,” Crow continued, “I don’t know what we’ll find, but the skinny bloke was not lying, I’ll warrant that. And the map cost us nothing. So what have we got to lose?”

“With such a hat I could go into ladies’ boudoirs unseen,” said the Captain, huskily, “Or bathrooms.”

“Cap’n, concentrate! What is your command? Do we follow the map?”

“Aye, Crow, we follow the map!” The Captain’s eyes gleamed. “Alert the crew. We sail on the dawn tide.”

Crow stood and bellowed loudly above the cacophonous babble in the crowded tavern.


Every person in The Dirty Doxy, save Big Tam who owned it and Dolly the Wench, let out a huge cheer, both man and woman alike, for every customer in the tavern this night served aboard the good ship Little Mavis.

“Crew alerted, Captain,” said Crow.

Ugly World Cup kits – a celebration

For the World Cup 2014, FIFA issued a directive that football kits must be predominantly ‘light’ or ‘dark’, leading to almost all of the teams wearing a single colour; Netherlands in orange socks, shorts and shirts, Germany in all white. Many, myself included, decry this anodyne decision. Perhaps never again will we experience the like of the delights that I now present to you, although we should credit Ghana with bravely adding a collar that looks like their Mums added it the night before they left for Brazil. Ladies and Gentlemen, enjoy the ugliest kits in World Cup history.

USA 1994

USA in 1994. A sort of denim meets lycra monstrosity.

A frankly embarrasing effort. The 1930 Bolivia team's kits spelt out 'Viva Uruguay' in honour of the host nation

The 1930 Bolivia team’s kits spelled out ‘Viva Uruguay’ in honour of the host nation. Except they ended up saying ‘Urugay’ instead.

Charlie Nicholas in Scotland's 1986 strip

Charlie Nicholas for Scotland in 1986. Look at it. Just look.

Jamaica 1998

Jamaica 1998 had everyone reaching for the colour knob on their telly.

Nigeria 1994

Nigeria turned up in their jim-jams for the 1994 World Cup.

Quinton Fortune of South Africa in this rather confused kit from the 1998 World Cup

Quinton Fortune of South Africa thinking “WTF am I wearing?” in 1998.

Anthology off the port bow! Cutthroats & Curses

Ahoy, swashbucklers, you need tarry no longer, for Cutthroats & Curses: an Anthology of Pirates is out now and just itching to shiver your timbers.

8 the full monty

What’s that I see on the cover? A dragon? And look! A web-fingered denizen of the oceans! A cool-as-fuck female pirate! And treasure, and tropical islands, and hey – could that book be a map wherein X marks the spot? Be excited, you swabs, for the stories collected herein play fast and loose with their uniting theme of piracy, and will take you on a voyage to places beyond your salty imagination.

Featuring ten of the finest indie writers around –Lisa Shambrook, Boyd Miles, Marissa Ames, Bryan Taylor, Beth Avery, Matt Jameson, Eric Martell, Michael Walker, Stephen Coltrane, and Alex Brightsmith and me, this treasure will delight everyone.

Buy it now for your Kindle at Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon Canada, Amazon Japan… oh you get the drift.

The cover was created by the wonderfully talented Kit Cooper, who also drew the cover for Soul of the Universe. You can buy beautiful Kit Cooper items here.

skull and crossbones

And, before you landlubbers leave, check out The Anthology Club‘s excellent debut release ‘Soul of the Universe’ :

5 SotU72logo websized‘This collection was absolutely breathtaking, and has introduced me to some new genres I wasn’t overly familiar with, and showed the extraordinary range of writing styles that all bring their own meaning to a story.’


‘Soul of the Universe is a collection of stunning short stories that can leave you smiling, crying or just in a state of wonder.’

Spiced lemon curd

DSCF1354Ok, so this recipe is for winter spiced lemon curd with cinnamon and vanilla, and it’s yummy scrumboes! Let me say here and now that those words are not mine (heaven forfend). The description comes from my good chum Sian Louise Parker who gave me the recipe.

It makes about 700g which is quite a lot – over twice the amount shown in my Kilner jar there.


Grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
4 Eggs, beaten and strained
350g Caster Sugar
100g Unsalted Butter

Optional ingredients:

6 whole cloves
1 x 5cm piece cinnamon stick
2 Star Anise
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Continue cooking the curd for 20-30 minutes, or until thickened. Do not boil, or you’ll end up with sweet scrambled eggs!

Strain into sterilised jars. Leave to cool before dealing tightly. This curd will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

You can leave out the cinnamon and cloves if you want a more traditional curd, which still tastes ‘yummy scrumboes’.

Best Photo Ever?

OK, it’s time we decided this once and for all. That @siveraudi2 keeps banging on about the first of these photos below being the best one ever, but I’ve found a dozen others that I reckon can give it a run for its money. Have a look through them and then vote for your favourite using the poll at the bottom. Let’s see if B’s correct.

1. Laughing camel girlBpEV16ECYAA1RQj


2. Squirrel puppet ladyBm99GQqCMAAcrkt


3. Oh, you’re back earlyBmABuFNCQAEmBCQ


4. Nazi foot milk512202b299d97


5. Oompaloompa rabbit distress1872060


6. Proud sewing machine ownerBnV0o4jCAAAq7wa


7. Donkey ridedonkey on back


8. Mounted policeFCK THE POLICE. bhahaha NSFW dont know_fc8257_3532788


9. Stormtrooper kittenenhanced-buzz-32471-1300477826-20


10. Tractor planeGeorge


11. Panda ninja panda


12. The first rule of Fight ClubVintage-Womens-Fight-Club


13. Feline groovywtf-hilarious-vintage-old-timey-black-and-white-photos6


How to download your FREE AUDIOBOOK

This post is for those lovely folk to whom I have given an Audible Promo Code to obtain a free copy of the AUDIOBOOK of Moth Girl versus The Bats, read by best-selling narrator Matt Thurston. If you want one too, all you have to do is ask. Go on, I won’t bite.

OK, guys, do this –

1. Go to the Moth Girl page on Audible.CO.UK or Audible.COM. Note, UK codes won’t work on the US site, and vice versa. You’ll need to log in to your Amazon account, or create a new one if you don’t already use the site.
2. Add the audiobook to your basket.Image3

3. IGNORE ‘OTHER BUYING OPTIONS’. Click ‘Do you have a promotional code?’ (bottom left)Image4

4. Enter the 13-digit promo code (the one I gave you, not the one on this screenshot!), and click “Apply Code”Image5

5. A box will appear telling you you have available credits, and you’ll now see a check box by the book under ‘Apply Credits’. Tick this box and click ‘Update’ to update your total to £0.00.Image7

6. Click ‘Continue with regular price’, check that your total is now zero and complete checkout by clicking ‘Buy Now’.Image8

7. Click ‘My Library’ and ‘Download’ to download your book.

Enjoy the hell out of the bugger. Please do rate and review it on Audible, as every single person who does that helps. Audible make reviewing a doddle by asking you three or four questions – it’s actually great fun. Oh, and thank you.

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