Friday, 18 April 2014

Barnaby goes channel hopping

Barnaby is not normally a channel hopper, preferring to read the TV listings and select those programmes that particularly appeal to him. Often this is simply the late night news, but he also enjoys good drama, particularly crime and the occasional gardening programme. He isn't, though, totally immune to channel hopping at the end of the day when nothing specific catches his attention.

Last night, while flicking through dozens of channels, he came across a group of people whose business involved chopping up cars and reassembling the pieces to create different, bespoke cars for people wealthy enough to afford this form of customised transport. This gave Barnaby an idea.

Book chop shop. Instead of creating entirely new books from scratch and having to write every new word, why not chop bits from existing books and reassemble them to create a new one? Now, before you shout 'plagiarism', or 'copyright infringement', Barnaby wishes to make it clear that he is referring only to his own books. He wouldn't dream of stealing from some other hard working author.

There are a few problems, of course. Welding the parts together to make a seamless join might be more difficult than writing the whole thing anew. There may also be complaints from readers experiencing a constant feeling of 'déjà vu' when reading one of these reassembled books.

On balance, therefore, Barnaby will continue to write each new story the hard way, word by word, sentence by sentence, and would like to assure his readers that every new story will be genuinely new.

You can find all his stories, old and new, at of course, in e-book or paperback format.

Meanwhile, it's back to the keyboard.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Barnaby follows the sun

Barnaby is flying to Spain tomorrow for a few days of R and R in the sun. Naturally, he'll be taking his Kindle and catching up on a few downloads that he's not found time to read so far. Amongst them, will be the latest offering from those unstoppable Top Writer's Block people. An informal group of Indie authors who publish anthologies of short stories on behalf of the Sea Shepherd charity.

The latest TWB oeuvre is 'Back Roads and Water', nine stories inspired by this month's theme.

Back roads can lead to places you might not like to go, while water can be a life saver - or taker.

Eight authors from around the world have contributed to this anthology which will take you down a different road each time.

You will find all the previous TWB anthologies here as well as links to some of the authors.

Of course, all Barnaby's own works are still available as e-book downloads or paperbacks. For more information, visit his website at

Happy reading.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Ribbon and Yarn - New TWB collection

TopWriters Block (TWB) is an informal group of writers from around the world who have decided to write stories together - just for the fun of it!

The authors proceeds from the book sales go to Sea Shepherd (, an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization, whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

The latest collection of stories from TWB, Ribbons and Yarn, is now available to download as an e-book

This collection of short stories is loosely based around the theme of Ribbon & Yarn.

Romance, tragedy and comedy have all become entangled in these eight tales from six authors that will keep your attention until the end.

If you enjoy these tales from TWB, there are many more titles available at with stories in every genre, from murder to mayhem, romance to poetry or fantasy to horror. Truly something for every taste.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

More Real Ale than Champagne

Barnaby has been thinking about TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms). What set him wondering, was a punctuation query. Should a TLA have full stops after each letter to denote the abbreviation?
The answer appears to be that there is no definitive answer. Some common acronyms such as a.m. and p.m., or A.D. and B.C. are commonly, but not invariably, written with full stops, as is G.I. and C.D.. Whereas BBC and NATO are usually written without. O.K. is apparently OK written either way.
Plurals present another difficulty. Should it be C.D.'s or CDs? Once again there seems to be no definitive answer. Perhaps it's simply a matter of preference? The recent explosive growth in the use of abbreviations and acronyms due to the widespread adoption of Text Speak has led to innumerable new examples, almost entirely without the full stop or apostrophe. Is this bad grammar, or progress? Probably neither, is Barnaby's conclusion, simply fashion.
Barnaby has resolved, therefore, to drop the use of the full stop in his writing when used as a separator in acronyms. From this point forth it will no longer be O.K., OK, but OK. Thus Detective Chief Inspector Webb, from the Mercedes Drew Mystery series, will henceforth be DCI Webb and Dogtooth, from the same series, will be known as DT. Of course, if you read the full series, you will undoubtedly find that Barnaby (who will henceforth be known in text speak as BW) has used both the full stop and the apostrophe with some inconsistency, for which he humbly craves your indulgence. Actually, he's hoping that you'll be so wrapped up in the stories, that you won't even notice the punctuation. (You can find the whole Mercedes Drew Mystery series at of course, along with all BW's other e-books and paperbacks).

The following verse was penned by BW a few years back when he also found himself pondering acronyms of the two, three, four and even five letter kind. He hopes that even if the verse doesn't make you LOL, it might at least make you smile.

More Real Ale than Champagne
I’m more MFI than Amalfi.
I’m more BHS than Biarritz.
I’m more M and S than Mauritius.
I’m more C and A than Cadiz.
I’m more HGV than Ferrari.
I’m more VPL than lace thong.
I’m more G and T than Campari.
I’m more R and B than folk song.
I’m not AOP nor yet YUPPIE,
Neither DINKY nor NIMBY nor bum.
I’m an ‘A’ OK sort of chappie.
A VGSOH sort of chum.
I’m more B and B than the Hilton.
I’m more H2O than old port.
I’m more OTT with a kilt on.
I’m more BBC than Sky Sport.
I’m more G and S than Puccini.
I’m more DIY than bespoke.
I’m more KFC than linguini.
Yes, …  I’m an ‘A’ OK kind of bloke.
I’m not RIP yet, nor baby,
And I’m not as PC as I should.
I could do with more TLC maybe.
(Make it ASAP if you could).
 Copyright BW (Nov 2003)

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Barnaby considers working to rule

One of Barnaby's favourite authors is Kurt Vonnegut, (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007), the author of Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle among many others. (Picture: U.S. Army official portrait of Kurt Vonnegut, c. early 1940s)

Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story in his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction. He also commented that great authors break all of these rules, though not necessarily all of the rules all of the time. He also graded his own work, awarding himself grades from A to D (The grades can be found in "The Sexual Revolution", Chapter 18 of his book Palm Sunday).

The Vonnegut list:
  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
Barnaby has never consciously followed any particular set of rules in his own writing (and probably very few authors do), but considers the Vonnegut list to be sufficiently interesting that he intends to keep a copy close at hand for future reference, though he has no present intention of grading his own stories, preferring to leave that to the reader. Of course, he would be delighted if you were to read any of his stories and leave a considered review, whether judged against the above list, or simply against your own scale of enjoyment.

You can find all Barnaby's stories and quirky poems at

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Bag a Bargain - Read an e-book week 2014

For one week only, between March 2nd and 8th 2014, you will find hundreds of e-books deeply discounted on the Smashwords website during the annual 'Read an e-book Week'.

You'll find every one of Barnaby's books at prices from 'FREE' ( 5 titles, including Flowers for Mercedes, Animalia, I Keep Thinking it's Tuesday and Barnaby's Shorts (vol one)) up to a maximum price of $1.50 (approx. 90pence).

This is your chance to bag a bargain, whether your taste is for quirky verse, humour, short stories or detective fiction. You could buy the entire collection of 21 e-books for under $20 ( approx. £10). Enough reading for a whole year!

You can find Barnaby's e-books on Smashwords here in any format to suit your e-reader.

Of course, the paperback versions are still available. (More information at

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Barnaby likes to be fooled

Barnaby has always liked magicians, conjurors, sleight of hand merchants, call them what you will. Whether it's a simple card trick, sawing a lady in half, walking through a solid wall, or levitation, he has always enjoyed the knowledge that he's being fooled and the fun of trying to puzzle out exactly how. Recently he has enjoyed watching young British magician Steven Frayne, better known to millions as Dynamo.

Steven performs both big magic, walking on water, or strolling down the vertical face of buildings for example, and small magic, performing what appear to be ad hoc tricks of magic on people in the street.

Barnaby truly has no idea how the tricks are performed, but, of course, he knows he is being fooled. The real joy of the magic is not knowing how the trick is done, but observing the reactions of the people on whom the tricks are performed; astonishment, wonder, incredulity, but, best of all, sheer delight.

In a small way, all authors are frustrated magicians, who wish to transport their readers to new places, or experiences, without them being aware of the techniques or process involved. If they can create astonishment, wonder, incredulity, or, best of all, sheer delight, then they can be content that they've performed their own little bit of magic.

Barnaby hopes you'll sample some of his e-books and paperbacks and enjoy some of the magic that he's tried to create, whether it's quirky poetry, short stories, detective fiction or humorous novels. For more details visit

Of course, if all you want to see is a man walking on water, you'll have to google Dynamo.