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