In the oubliette

My computer landed next to me in the oubliette yesterday. I suppose I should consider myself lucky it didn’t land on me.

Two and a half years I’ve been down here. Little Caligula pushed me in as a merry jape just before Christmas and the delightfully vindictive little swine probably thinks I’ve died. Evidently he failed to work out the password for my computer, which is why I have it now.

Now I can communicate with the outside world again. I can get someone to help me out of here and end my diet of raw rats and spiders. It’s not a bad diet, plenty of protein, but it gets boring after a while.

The only ones I’ve talked to in here are Death and Red Stan and they’ve become pretty dull. Death just looks disappointed when he shows up and finds me still alive. Stan keeps going on about me signing a contract to get out of here but I’m not falling for that. His contracts are heavily loaded in his favour.

So if you’ll excuse my long absence from reality, I have to call someone to get me out.

Professor Crowe, you have mail.

Things have happened.


Click dropped a flask. Not unusual in itself, although the contents were. We have mostly recovered now apart from Click who is still a gecko and it serves him right. I’d step on him if he wasn’t so fast. He’d better recover soon. It’s nearly time to prepare for our annual Snare Santa festivities.

So it’s catch-up time. The review I wrote for Carole Jahme’s vampire story ‘Worth Their Weight in Blood‘ is up, the one for the fascinating premise that is Geoff Nelder’s ‘ARIA: left luggage’ has yet to be sent in (it’s late), and there is a very nice writeup of ‘The Articles of Dume’ further down this page.

I have attempted to provoke Santa for years in the hope he will get angry enough to make a mistake and I have, it seems, succeeded with ‘A Christmas Contract’ which he reviewed anonymously and awarded a single star with a hint of paranoid delusion. I’m getting to you, Santa. Here’s another dig.

While I was a bearded dragon, ‘Samuel’s Girl’ finally made it into ePrint and is gradually spreading in print too. It’s now available from the publisher as well as on Barnes and Noble and on Amazon in Kindle and in print in the US, but not yet in legitimate print in the UK. Used copies are already available although the sellers don’t specify what they used them for so buy at your own risk.

I still think that cover is incredible. It’s worth the price just to have that image.

Now I have to deal with little Caligula who has decided that since we missed his birthday this year, we owe him presents with interest. It’s not even a month late but his interest rates would make a payday lender cringe. I will have to force some kind of compromise here.

Excuse me. Click is running across the ceiling again. Where’s my slingshot?


Death makes the big time.

It has been hectic here in Dume Swamp in recent months. Some time ago, a Green Man called and persuaded me to have solar panels installed on the roof. It was at no cost to me, he said, I’d get paid for the electricity they generated, he said, and then ‘Aaagh, stop skinning me alive!’ he said and then he went very quiet apart from the occasional gurgle.

He was okay, but a bit stringy. The Green Men often are.

Other Green Men arrived and installed big panels on the roof. I sent Click up to make sure they installed them over the holes. Good thing too, since keeping the rain out is all they turned out to be good for. Here in the north of Scotland, in a swamp permanently shrouded in fog, solar panels don’t do anything much. If the first Green Man had mentioned they need sunlight to work, the later Green Men could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and the later ones would at least still have skin.

I wish someone else would call. You have to boil the meat for hours to take out the bitterness and reduce the gristle to chewable levels.

Anyway, I now have enough power to fire up the computer as long as Click keeps running in the wheel.

So I have been perusing the details of a miniature Australian version of our own swamp’s whipweed, one so small it can only eat flies. It has a great deal of growing to do before it can deal with Ferals and salesmen but it’s a start. While perusing, I felt a set of icy phalanges on my shoulder.

“Good evening, Dume,” boomed the empty voice of Death. “I see your offspring has been somewhat lax in his duties. You’re still alive.”

“Sorry to disappoint. Still, he’s only three years old at the end of this month. You have to make allowances for his age and for my well-developed cunning. He hasn’t even eaten his mother yet.”

“Hmm.” Death leaned over my shoulder. “Reading the news? Here’s one of far more interest to you, as a writer.” He took control of the mouse and changed the page.

I began to read the story that appeared. “Body parts have value? How fascinating.”

“No, no, not that.” He scrolled down to something that looked like a map produced by a deranged railway engineer. “This. This is a plot of the most popular story elements in successful novels. Notice who occupies the largest segment?”

I turned to look at him just as he puffed out his ribs.

“Me,” he said.

My attention returned to the screen and the story. “Not really. What this says is that from a selection of the best selling books, most of them include someone’s death as a plot element. It isn’t actually you.”

Death rummaged in his cape and took out a pair of narrowed eyes, which he held over his orbits. “Are they, or are they not, dead?”

I scratched my ear. “Well, they are fictional so–”

“Dead or not dead. It’s a yes or no thing. it always is.”

“Well, okay, yes, they are dead.” I sensed the evening was likely to transcend logic.

“I am Death, am I not? So even if the dead people are fictional, they need a fictional version of me to collect them. So it counts. I am the most popular thing in the most popular novels.” He leaned close. “So if you want to write a popular novel, you must have me in it.”

I put my face in my hands. Red Stan expects a story about him and now Death wants one too.

“Okay,” I said. “Most of my characters die so technically you’re already in there and you did feature in Bernie’s Bargain as yourself. I can make you more prominent if you like.”

“I like.” He grinned, I suppose, but then he has little choice in the matter, and then he vanished.

I think what I need now is a story with both Death and Red Stan in it. That should shut them both up.

For a while.


The comet cometh.

Every time there is a comet, the world goes nuts. All it is, really, is a lump of icy rock floating about in the sky but the doom-mongers love to scare everyone with a new End of the World story.

Well, so do I.

So I need a comet disaster tale in time for the arrival of comet ISON and it has to be more bizarre and more terrifying than anything the doom-mongers can devise.

One small issue. The comet arrives in late November 2013. Isn’t the world already supposed to end in December 2012?


Fifty grades of hay.

There is a man who has dared to read the womanly porn book of the year. We men must don our serious faces and hope into our beer that he will not turn all funny as a result. Then laugh like drains if he does.

His journey begins here.

I am inspired to construct a similar piece of contentious literature. ‘Fifty grades of hay’ should have the farming community utterly incensed because everyone knows there are only forty-nine. I hope to see them in the news shouting Ooo-arrr and Begorrah and Where’s the Cider as soon as it comes out, if not before.

Yes, it will be plant-porn nonsense but it seems to sell.


The sample is ready.

Here’s the missing article, plus one new one. It’s Ebook-only because it’s too small to print but I’ll include this in the next full-size book. This Ebook is free and will remain free, because its purpose is to advertise the main book.

So far it’s only on Smashwords but it’ll spread. Demons do that.

It’s a good feeling, having the whole set.

The Articles of Dume.

Finally, I have finished procrastinating about this and taken action. Not very much action since most of the book was already written but action nonetheless.

I had 46 articles on horror writing published in AlienSkin, and I found 45 of them. That last, missing one, was the perfect excuse to procrastinate about the book but I have come to the conclusion it is probably lost forever.

Rather than risk losing the other 45 while searching for the one, they are now collected together in print on Lulu, on Amazon in a few days, and will start to spread in Ebook formats as soon as I get the formats right.

That’s not as easy as it sounds.