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The Martian a.k.a Mr Potato Head In Space
The Martian

Stranded on Mars for bloody years – lucky I found all this beer…

The planet Mars is host to some of the greatest mysteries that baffle our space scientist’s minds. Did it ever support life? Did it ever have water? Why did it appear red for so many centuries? And most incomprehensible of all – how the fuck did The Martian  win a Golden Globe for Best Movie, Comedy or Musical?

This ain’t a comedy – apart from maybe two or three quirky one-liners about our hero starving to death in a space suit. And the guy in question, Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) never breaks into any rousing chorus song before dancing the can-can around a nearby crater. So go figure about that Golden Globe…

However, it is a good movie worth an award. It’s a fairly predictable “Robinson Crusoe Goes To Mars” story with, obviously, a unique setting and sci-fi type obstacles to Watney surviving, rather than head-hunting cannibals who want to scoop his brains out with a wooden spoon. The poor bastard gets left behind when everyone else abandons the Mars exploration camp because of a violent storm – a storm which trashes Watney’s Life Support “I’m not dead” electronic thingy and they assume he’s been toasted, too. Useless bastards could have looked out the window before hitting the blast-off button…

So Watney has to figure out a way to survive another few years on his own until, as he already knows, the next Mars mission is due to arrive. Then he can somehow travel across to the new landing zone and knock on the door for help – no doubt scaring the absolute fuck out of the astronauts inside who think they’re the only living things within a zillion miles or so. Fortunately, Watney is a Botanist and plans to grow a bunch of vacuum-packed potatoes to eat. To help things along, sharp-eyed NASA observers on Earth notice that the Mars Exploration toilet seat is being left up suggesting that some bloke – take a wild guess, it’s Watney – is still alive and needs saving.

But this is kind of “present day” science fiction and no one can simply turn the spaceship around and go pick him up. It’s all about impossible distances, years of mind-numbing space travel and insurmountable logistics – a bit like driving the Forrest Highway really. No surprise, there’s the prerequisite nerdy kid who’s spent his entire life wanking alone over pictures of Sigourney Weaver half-naked in Alien – who figures out a “better” way to save Watney when the freeze-dried shit hits the oxygen-regeneration unit.

That’s enough spoilers. It’s a cool, entertaining movie with plenty of special sci-fi effects for Trekky and Star Wars fans. About the only fly in the plot ointment is believing that anyone could survive so long just eating spuds – but I suppose it worked okay for the Irish in the 19th Century.

Check it out with a big bag of popcorn and a carton of beer – or a mountain of potato chips if you want to get into The Martian zone.

I’ve still got two books free for anyone willing to try out my novels. See below for Amazon US links or here for others (Lukas Boston) and here for Horror Story Volumes distributors.

Mystery Lukas Boston Twice As Dead High Res Download from Amazon  Bedtime Story Cover Download from Amazon

400 DAYS will leave you in a daze.

Damn… I think the scriptwriter threw himself out the airlock.


Okay, I’ll do the right thing and warn you that some of this review might be regarded as spoilers. Which has nothing to do with how the script, the cast, the plot and production values do a great job of spoiling the entire film anyway, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

400 Days steals its concept from the very real HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue and Simulation) experiment where pseudo astronauts are simulating space travel and imitating living on Mars to determine if any adverse psychological effects might happen during the real thing. Like, if you might suffer any urges to axe-murder your fellow crew, because they didn’t replace the used toilet roll. Bastards.

In 400 Days it’s a private organisation, not NASA, and four wannabe astronauts are entombed in an underground, mock-spaceship facility in the middle of the desert to pretend they’ve embarked on a long mission to another planet (no prizes for guessing how long). They’re warned that all kinds of bad, simulated space shit will happen and they have to cope. If successful, at the end of the four hundred days maybe NASA will give them a job… or something.

The first fly in the film’s ointment appears when we meet our intrepid crew. Even in a privatised venture you’d expect that any participants would have met some extremely stringent entry qualifications. Obviously, NASA will never send just any fucking idiot into space. However, the company behind the 400 Days project apparently believes that NASA will send not only one, but four fucking idiots to Mars and beyond — the crew in this movie.

The captain of the “ship” rolls up on Day One with a crippling hangover, because his girlfriend dumped him. This makes perfect sense. Neil Armstrong was probably on the piss for weeks before landing on the moon. Our second crewman can’t take anything seriously — great criterion for taking part in any in-depth simulation. Crewman Three is a weedy, psychotic wreck before he even goes down the ladder. The fourth member of the team is, of course, a cute attractive girl who doubles as the crew’s doctor and psychologist.

Awesome idea, let’s lock three fucked-up, horny fools underground with a stunning girl who’s going to be giving them regular prostate examinations. What could possibly go wrong? In fact, what she does give them is scheduled injections of stuff they didn’t agree to — and, lo and behold, all kinds of hallucinogenic, scary shit starts to happen (I use the term scary under advisement) including unseen monsters banging on the hull and knocking on the door. The team also loses all contact with so-called Mission Control, but nobody’s willing to pop the hatch and check if Occupation Health and Safety has closed the whole thing down, because that would rate a fail if they’re wrong, get it? No job at NASA for you, arsehole.

So the big question is — are the hallucinations, the terrifying noises, the lack of contact and truly appalling fucking plot all part of the simulation… or has something real gone wrong?

There is one spectacular crash — but sorry, we’re not talking special effects here. It’s in the credibility of the script. Otherwise 400 Days is just a lazy, low-budget piece of sci-fi fodder with most of the film shot, I suspect, in the director’s own kitchen. The self-serve checkouts at Woolworths look more futuristic than 400 Days’ set design. Even when they finally pop the hatch and emerge, it’s night-time and pitch black. The obligatory tumbleweed rolls past. And although they know it’s still Earth and they’ve only been underground, the crew still put on their pretend space suits and helmets — for fuck’s sake (sigh).

Honestly, the most impressive bit of sci-fi, space imagery used for the film is the picture on the front of the DVD cover (yes, that’s it above). It probably took the entire CGI budget. I could say, “What a crock of shit” — but it tricked me into watching this rubbish, so you gotta hand it to them.

Maybe I’m being too harsh and the film was unfortunately released at roughly the same time as the latest Star Wars, where the budget for Harrison Ford’s food blender was larger than 400 Days’ complete production — comparisons aren’t going to help. So, by all means have a look for yourselves, but I recommend you wait until it slips onto the “Weekly” DVD shelves.

I should mention the ending. You’ll blink twice and say loudly, “What the fuck?

Does that give you a hint?


I’ve got a couple of free books available, my first Lukas Boston Mystery called Twice As Dead and my sixth Horror Story Volume entitled, Bedtime Story. Don’t be scared, they’re free okay?

Mystery Lukas Boston Twice As Dead High Res Bedtime Story Cover

How To Annoy Criminals Into Confessing
Brenda Blethyn as Vera
Brenda Blethyn as Vera

Look, she’s even grumpy about the fresh air…

I’m a fan of British “cosy” mystery television shows. You know the sort – like Midsomer Murders, Inspector George Gently… even The Inspector Lynley Mysteries get a run even though the main character is a pretentious prick.

Each show has its own kind of theme that endears us to the heroic pursuit of Bad People. Midsomer Murders is set in the modern day and yet at the same time is still adamant that the last fifty years has never happened. Britain is all just rolling green fields and peaceful villages where the vicar regularly flogs people to death with a golf club, people get poisoned by the baker and the local tart always gets what’s coming to her. Most of the crimes are solved by an illuminating pint of bitter followed by a chase scene through cow shit – with the coppers are wearing expensive shoes. That’s a bit weird – if you were a country detective you wouldn’t go solving murders in your best Barker Blacks, right? (Don’t worry, I had to Google a stupidly expensive shoe brand). You’d get a pair of Rossi’s or something.

Inspector George Gently offers a different approach to solving crime. Here our heroes use a unique method of chain-smoking any suspects into confessing. Forget water-boarding, hitting criminals with a phone book or your basic arm-twisting. The detectives in IGG just keep lighting up fags until the criminals, in a desperate bid to escape the interview room and avoid contracting Cancer Of Everything, confess to anything visible on the whiteboard.

It’s all good, harmless fun – apart from the murders, robberies, rapists and such, of course.

But I just don’t get “Vera”. If you haven’t seen it, Vera is a middle-aged (in fact, kind of on the wrong side of middle-aged really) Detective Inspector who solves crimes by just being fucking angry. She’s fucking angry about everything. The fucking whiteboard, the fucking forensics, the other fucking detectives, the fucking crime, the fucking evidence, the fucking cup of tea some incompetent fucker has made for her… I suspect the scriptwriter is in a really, really bad marriage. Apparently Brenda Blethyn (Vera) is an award-winning actress… must have been the UK Fucking Angry Awards or something. And while I get that maybe the producers of the show wanted to create the antithesis of your usual suave, somehow-flawed-but-we-don’t-mind, Pierce Brosnan-type of detective, it feels like they took it too far (maybe that’s why Vera’s so fucking angry?). Because it’s just too hard to imagine Vera is really a hard-nosed copper instead the cleaning woman who wandered onto the film set by accident. Then again, I suppose Miss Marple was hardly Catwoman…

Oh well, maybe a new series of Midsomer Murders is on the way? It’s got a cute, fluffy dog – and DCI Tom Barnaby’s wife is way easier on the eyes than her predecessor, who looked like an upside-down floor mop wearing cheap jeans. They’ve introduced a damned baby in the last series, but maybe it can get murdered in the first episode or something? Keep things uncomplicated and stick to dogs.

In the meantime I don’t have anyone quite so fucking angry in any of my novels. Upset, perhaps… and Lukas Boston’s neighbour is permanently disappointed in Lukas (actually, I’ve just realised that Vera resembles my fictional Irene a bit). The good news is that lots of people get murdered, abducted and robbed – the same kind of good, clean fun mentioned above.

Twice As Dead is still absolutely free on the Amazon US and Amazon UK sites. On other Amazon sites it might still cost you, because Amazon is crap at matching its own prices. You can send ’em an email and whinge – and they’ll fix it (I can’t, being the author… it’s complicated). If you get it and like the story, post a review will you? Reviews are the lifeblood of ebook authors.

Mystery Lukas Boston Twice As Dead High Res

A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On… San Andreas Movie Review


There were some cracks in the plot, and a few crushing disappointments, but besides all that for an earthquake movie…

Flying back from Melbourne last week I got to watch San Andreas, the latest earthquake film starring Dwayne Johnson (The Rock). Admittedly, a tiny screen in the back of an aircraft seat is hardly the ideal movie experience and the small children sitting opposite me across the aisle were a strong argument for contraception, but I still pretty much got the gist of the film.

Our hero The Rock is a highly-decorated Rescue Helicopter pilot who, through reasonable circumstances, happens to be flying a chopper by himself to a maintenance department (there’s no other crew on board to ruin the story or steal the limelight, right?) when the largest earthquake like, for ever and ever, hits the west coast of the USA. On the ground below shit starts falling down a lot. Plenty of screaming people, panicked texting, cancelling of dental appointments, crying babies inexplicably left on the footpath… you know the deal.

So, being an expert in saving people and coincidentally flying a million-dollar piece of high-tech rescue helicopter, does The Rock start doing his thing and helping folks? Nope, instead he decides to go and save his ex-wife who, by the way, left The Rock to go and shag a billionaire property developer dude. The entire city is going under — literally collapsing down big-arse holes appearing in the ground — and The Rock figures he should focus on saving his cheating wife who’s been blowing a real estate salesman.

But that’s not his main worry. The Rock also has a daughter (Alexandra Daddario) who likewise needs rescuing and that’s next on the list. Fuck the rest of the population, they can get their own helicopter.


Don’t panic, Alexandra Daddario wears a lot more clothes than this during San Andreas… yes, I know you were concerned.


The story progresses through our main characters impossibly avoiding countless ways to get squashed, buried, burned, mugged and drowned until they reach the inevitable, climactic conclusion. I’m sure you can figure it out for yourself. Don’t worry, no one gets really hurt. Well, none of cast — the good guys, at least.

Actually, you gotta hand it to the film’s makers that despite the utter chaotic, total destruction involved here you never really see any squished bodies in the streets or burning cats. It’s all kind of tastefully done, if that makes sense, and the only people who die are the villains who deserve it and one sacrificial lamb early in the movie. He was a nerd anyway.

Would I recommend it?


Okay, so the story line is silly, it encourages stealing helicopters (Bronwyn Bishop would approve) and our heroes continually survive the most incredibly dangerous situations. This is McGyver, The A Team and Rambo all combined into one and on lots of steroids. But the special effects and CGI stuff is gob-smacking and stunning — well worth the price of renting a DVD. The “big” scenes of rippling suburbs, smashing buildings and the tsunami at the end (yes, there’s a cool tsunami scene at the end… of course) are some serious popcorn-munching, beer-swilling movie moments. Awesome to watch. Who the hell cares about a credible story? Sure, in reality a zillion people would have been killed, but never mind that. Check out the Hoover Dam going down the gurgler. It’s like one enormous toilet being flushed with cars and terrified people getting stuck in the S-Bend. Cool!

Like I said, you only see the bad people getting crushed, slashed and crispy-fried. The moral of this film should be, “You never know where the next flying sea container is coming from”.

And no dogs were harmed during the making of this movie.


By the way, if you’d prefer reading a book instead, two of mine (below) are now permanently free for the sake of promotions. Yes, that’s free. Twice As Dead is a mystery, crime, paranormal thriller with lots of black humour like you’ve just endured in this blog, while Bedtime Story is a more traditional horror story designed to scare the shit out of you. Neither story includes large blocks of falling concrete. Links are below.

Mystery Lukas Boston Twice As Dead High Res Amazon Link, Apple iBooks Link, Barnes and Noble Link

Bedtime Story Cover Amazon Link, Apple iBooks Link, Barnes and Noble Link


How To Read Books Germ-Free


Yes, yes… I know…

Die-hard readers of printed books argue that there’s nothing to match the “feel” of those real pages. The crunchy noise they make as you turn them, keeping your partner awake in bed beside you and prompting hissed threats of divorce if you don’t keep quiet. The way that books, like bits of toast, always fall on the floor the wrong way and flip closed, losing your place. The comforting weight of a good tome, like carry around a loaf of rye bread in your backpack. Attracting rats and mice.

Don’t forget germs. A good book can cause people to burst into tears. Tears means sniffles, sniffles means snot, and snot means germs — this stuff’s bubbling out of your nose for God’s sake. It’s hardly going to be sterile, is it? The avid reader probably leaves enough germs on a book’s cover to wipe out an entire city with pneumonia.

Still, we’re very sentimental about the printed novel. It’s kind of romantic in a sleeping spouse-enraging, doughy, germ-ridden sort of way.

Okay, to be fair in this digital, piracy-plagued age there’s a lot to be said for a real book. Your average Stephen King-like novel is around 200,000 words. A printed book is a bloody efficient way to store 200K words. It doesn’t need batteries or a power outlet, it won’t break if you drop it, and when someone else wants to borrow your book it means you’ll hand over your copy, which should prompt many people to say, “Piss off, buy your own — you bloody cheapskate.” That’s good for the author’s sales.

But be honest, as much as you’re keen to hang onto the past and bury your face in several pulped trees when you’re reading, have you ever tried an eReader?

They’re awesome. If you consider buying something like a Kindle Paperwhite it’s not like reading from a screen at all. Amazon has gone to great lengths to create an experience akin to reading a printed paper page — without the snot and germs. However, if you want to try ebooks cost-free you don’t need an eReader at all, if you already own some kind of tablet. Free apps will mimic a Kindle perfectly.

Personally, although I own one of the original Kindles, lately I prefer to read books on my iPad using the Kindle app. For a very simple reason — I can set the app to display white text on a black background and read in the complete dark without disturbing my wife in bed… apart from the constant sniffing, burping, farting and yawning of which I’m apparently guilty of (yes me, not her, but I think she’s making it up). The app never forgets what page I’m on — although I often forget what I read the night before — I can increase the size of the text when I’ve been drinking, and being an iPad I can plug in some headphones and listen to soothing book-reading music at the same time (like Nine Inch Nails or Ozzy Osbourne).

Ebooks are generally cheaper, even best-sellers are usually much less in price than the printed versions. There is a wealth of very cheap, “indie” authors’ books, too. In fact, a zillion free books are out there. Okay, not all of them are well-written. In fact, there’s a lot of crap self-published and the good indie authors are the first to acknowledge this, but don’t let that deter you, because there really are some excellent indie authors doing sci-fi, thrillers, horror — it’s not just about romance and erotica like 50 Shades of Grey. Of course, if you are on the look-out for a bit of naughty porn-without-pictures you should find the odd title or two… yes, I’m being sarcastic.

I don’t have to convince you about eReaders. The apps are free, almost every ebook is available in a decent-sized sample that’s free so it’s a “try before you buy” no-risk purchase. In Australia (dunno about anywhere else) you can even borrow ebooks through your local library. For free — it’s a library, right?

Trust me, eReaders in all shapes and sizes are brilliant. What have you got to lose by trying one? Only a couple of hours reading a really good book… maybe even one of mine?


Featured Book, Twice As Dead US$2.99 from Amazon

Urban Twice As Dead

“The first time anyone encounters a ghost it helps to be wearing some pants. Wearing anything really, but pants is a good start.”
Lukas Boston is a private detective who attracts beautiful women, annoying ghosts and murder investigations no one else will take on. He’s also caught the attention of a sniper, who is getting closer to Lukas with every shot.
Thanks to his grandmother’s gypsy blood, Lukas has the Gift to see the Dead, but the spirit world only brings him trouble. When the spectre of a dead drug courier starts visiting Lukas, it reopens a case involving a long-missing shipment of cocaine. Word gets out on the street that Lukas somehow has fresh clues and suddenly everyone wants Lukas to find the stolen drugs. Some people will pay Lukas very well if he does – and others will kill him, if he doesn’t.
Welcome to the world of Lukas Boston, a place filled with crime, sex, ghosts and Lukas’ very annoyed landlady

Now It’s Unidentified Flying… V-Shaped, Boomerang Thingies.

sao paolo brazil V UFO et sighting craft yahyel essassani

Is this a real UFO?

Well, no — it’s actually an artist’s impression of what a very normal, very reliable woman witnessed through her aircraft window above Sao Paolo, Brazil. So normal, she didn’t freak out, but instead calmly drew a sketch while the memory was still fresh. And the folks at The Object Report reckon she might be onto something.

It could be compelling evidence that aliens from another planet have perfected faster-than-light travel, while at the same time being absolutely crap at aerodynamics.

Actually, this V-shape “boomerang” type of UFO is well-documented. Versions of it have been reported for decades. Your basic, boring ol’ flying saucer design is so last year’s model it’s not funny.

There is a sensible explanation for this. UFOlogists and supporters of interplanetary travel in general have believed for a long time that aliens visit other planets by flying through worm holes that transcend time, space and all those road works where the local councils always seem to be fixing a perfectly good piece of fucking road. These worm holes shift through space, kind of like a vacuum cleaner tube floating in the ocean, and the entry and exit points constantly change.

Which means that back in the 1960’s or so, we were being visited by aliens from the planet Splodge where they built saucer-shaped space craft. Now, in 2015 and with the worm holes somewhere totally different, we’re seeing visitors from the planet Splunge where they prefer V-shaped rockets (except they don’t use anything so archaic as “rockets”).

It’s wrong to be so dismissive about the existence of UFO’s and aliens. I have no doubt they are real — there’s got to be countless other planets with intelligent life. The only sensible argument involves how we might ever bump into each other, given the odds of time and distance. We should remember that 150 years ago getting off the ground at all was considered impossible. Today, Richard Branson will flog you an airline ticket to the moon.

Besides, again you have to take into account the numbers game — just like the “Are ghosts real?” question. Over nearly five millennia from the ancient Egyptians scratching pictures of flying saucers inside the pyramid’s toilet cubicles to a very reliable woman spotting something strange outside an aircraft window, we’ve had hundreds of thousands of UFO sightings. Do you really believe every single one of them is wrong? That’s it’s not possible that one — just one — might be genuine? Because that is all it would take. That a single UFO sighting during a period of over 5000 years of not-so-close encounters… is real.

We are not alone. Aliens are among us. They’re shite at aerodynamics, so maybe not so advanced after all. I’ll bet their ray-guns are rubbish, too.

Check out the full story at It’s a cool site!

Featured Book

Bedtime Story Cover BUY AT AMAZON US$1.99

My latest release in the Horror Story series is out and available at Amazon. At 75 pages it’s not exactly “short” as I keep saying these stories should be, so you’re getting a bargain. Here’s the blurb behind the book.

Bedtime Story

It was just an old bed — rather ordinary, bought for the spare room. Except that a hundred years earlier a woman called Rose, who practiced in the occult and dark magic, slept in it. Now Rose’s unhappy spirit comes as part of the deal – Rose’s angry ghost comes with the bed. That’s not what you’d call a bargain.
Angela and Nathan are a young couple, married only two years before, both of them professionals. They’re happy and in love, although the pressures of modern life can be challenging some days. The antique bed is just right for the spare room in their expensive apartment.
Rose’s spirit doesn’t like happy marriages unless you’re prepared to wed the Devil.
Sleeping in the bed promises erotic dreams with perfect lovers — more passionate and daring than your wife, more considerate and satisfying than your husband. Before long, the dreams are much better than reality.
Three’s a crowd in any relationship even when one person is already dead.
Readers please note: This story contains some strong sex scenes that aren’t common in my previous Horror Story releases.

New Horror Story Volume VI Released

Bedtime Story Cover BUY AT AMAZON US$1.99

My latest release in the Horror Story series is out and available at Amazon. At 75 pages it’s not exactly “short” as I keep saying these stories should be, so you’re getting a bargain. Here’s the blurb behind the book.

Bedtime Story

It was just an old bed — rather ordinary, bought for the spare room. Except that a hundred years earlier a woman called Rose, who practiced in the occult and dark magic, slept in it. Now Rose’s unhappy spirit comes as part of the deal – Rose’s angry ghost comes with the bed. That’s not what you’d call a bargain.
Angela and Nathan are a young couple, married only two years before, both of them professionals. They’re happy and in love, although the pressures of modern life can be challenging some days. The antique bed is just right for the spare room in their expensive apartment.
Rose’s spirit doesn’t like happy marriages unless you’re prepared to wed the Devil.
Sleeping in the bed promises erotic dreams with perfect lovers — more passionate and daring than your wife, more considerate and satisfying than your husband. Before long, the dreams are much better than reality.
Three’s a crowd in any relationship even when one person is already dead.
Readers please note: This story contains some strong sex scenes that aren’t common in my previous Horror Story releases.

Is Amazon KULLING Off Romance Writers?


Over the last week or so there has been an enormous bun fight ­— or should that be “bum fight”? — within the self-publishing book industry. Writers’ forums have been filled with outrage, hand-wringing, ridiculous in-depth mathematical analysis and much soap-boxing. In other words, some very serious dummy-spitting. You see, a lot of really successful authors are about to lose a shitload of money. We’re talking Scrooge McDuck Money Bin amounts of dollars. Huge bundles of cash.

Bear with me while I explain how and why. Don’t worry, there will be lots of sex.

Anyone who self-publishes anything as an ebook has to sell through Amazon. Okay, you don’t have to, but Amazon controls the lion’s share of the ebook market by selling titles for its own Kindle eBook Reader and basically you’re mad, if you don’t sign up to ‘Zon.

Amazon offers a subscription service for people who read tons of books every week. It’s called “Kindle Unlimited” (KU) or the “Kindle Owners Lending Library” (KOLL). I won’t bore you with too much detail, just know that rather than buying each book you want, you can instead pay $10.00 a month as a kind of lending fee and read as much as you like. Authors like me can choose to enrol our books in KU/KOLL and in addition to being paid a royalty fee per-borrow we get exclusive access to marketing tools, advertising… stuff like that.

How does Amazon figure out the royalty fee, if it’s giving your book away? It used a fairly complicated formula that took into account the amount of KU subscribers (and therefore a “pool” of money), how many titles were enrolled in KU and borrowed, what Jeff Bezos paid for lunch on any given day, the penguin population in Antarctica and… well, shit I don’t know exactly and it doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is that the last KU payout per book was around $1.35 each borrow.

Get it? Every time someone borrowed one of my books in Amazon’s KU/KOLL library program and read more than ten percent of it (very important, remember this 10% bit) I got paid a royalty fee of $1.35. Brilliant.

Hang on, but many of my books are over 350 pages long, while others are less than 100 pages. But it’s a flat rate? So, everyone still gets paid $1.35 per borrow regardless of the book’s length, retail price and rating? How does that work?

It doesn’t. Yes, it wasn’t long before a lot of writers saw a unique opportunity.

Now we get to talk about Erotica and Romance books. You may be aware, erotica and romance books are a gigantic business. Truly enormous. It’s a huge industry of porn-without-pictures. To name just a few, there’s normal erotica, gay erotica, vampire erotica, dystopia erotica, shape-shifting erotica (getting shagged by werewolves, prompting a bestiality backlash), even something called “dinosaur porn”, but I really don’t want to know what that is – I really don’t. Anything you can imagine, it exists in erotic writing. Plus lots of stuff you’ll never imagine – I hope.

Here’s your standard Erotica story/plotline: A ridiculously handsome and buff-looking plumber is called to the home of a really lonely, bored housewife to fix a blocked pipe (no, don’t go there yet). In the process his shirt gets soaked, the distraught young woman offers to clean and dry it for him — and roughly one page later the bored housewife is getting rogered into a coma on the bathroom floor. A happy ending.

That’s about 5000 words or maybe 12-15 pages, right?

If it’s a romance novel, while the bored housewife is cleaning and drying the plumber’s shirt, he’ll explain how he rescues abandoned kittens off the street and donates them to the elderly. She’ll tell him of her terribly misunderstood relationship with her cruel, career-driven husband… and eventually leads the plumber by the hand into the bedroom (that’s like something out of a Disney fairytale film) where likewise the bored housewife is shagged into exhaustion among lots of fluffy pillows. A romantic ending, if a tad adulterous.

That’s about 7000 words or possibly 20 pages, okay?

You can write this sort of stuff in a day, if you know your chops. A lot of erotica and romance writers were producing one or two titles per week, publishing on Amazon and enrolling them in KU/KOLL to be snapped up by a voracious readership. You can’t underestimate just how huge this market is, believe me. Lonely and bored housewives are being indiscriminately deflowered by shirtless tradesmen all over America and readers can’t get enough of it. Some authors claim to have published 100 “books” in a year. Many have in excess of fifty or sixty and more. For each one borrowed by the million-odd sex-starved subscribers to KU/KOLL they got paid $1.35.

It’s a numbers game that amounted to big, big money. People were earning six-figure incomes courtesy of Amazon’s broken KU/KOLL royalty payment, making a fortune on ten-page porn fantasies. Nothing wrong or illegal — they saw the flaw in Amazon’s KU/KOLL system and exploited it to the full. Good on ‘em.

Starting a week ago, in this July, Amazon said, “Ooops…” and changed its KU/KOLL policy in a drastic way. Now it pays authors not per book borrowed, but by the number of pages read. If you have any doubts, just trust me that Amazon with its Kindle eReaders can easily track how many pages you’ve read. The expected royalty rate will be something like half a cent per page.

The erotic and romantic literary shit has hit the fan. Even if someone reads our illustrious plumber’s tale of sexual pipe-unblocking through to its entire 15 page epic conclusion, that equates to… $0.075 cents royalty fee, not $1.35. And here’s another kicker — to ensure the reader reached that magical “ten percent read” to qualify for royalties (I told you to remember that bit) a lot of erotica writers crammed plenty of rude bits in the opening pages. You don’t need to read the whole book to get your erotic fix and many didn’t. Housewives were being well and truly plumbed by page three, or about $0.015 cents worth.

All those authors earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year through KU/KOLL will lose maybe 95% of that income — if not more. Of course, an answer is to remove their books from KU/KOLL and force readers to buy them at full price (usually at 0.99 cents for which they earned 35% royalty), but without the almost indiscriminate method of mad, unlimited borrowing seen in KU, most discerning erotica and romance fans will spend wisely and turn to the well-established authors who write the genre well. It’ll be survival of the fittest.

Among all the teeth-gnashing about the new payment scheme many of these short (as in story, not in stature) erotica writers are screaming that “size doesn’t matter” — which is a really odd thing for purveyors of porn to argue. They say, “Why are we being punished for our books only being 10 pages long? Now novel writers will make all the money! It’s not fucking fair!”

Which is the kind of stupid mathematics I mentioned earlier, because it doesn’t matter if your book is 1000 pages long or only ten. You still only get paid for what someone reads and if your writing sucks, you don’t make any money. It’s about prolonged reader engagement and many authors are welcoming that. This is a serious challenge, by the way. Data tells us that a high percentage of books aren’t read to the finish and many are discarded very early. A lot of KU/KOLL authors aren’t only going to take a big hit in the wallet, but in the ego too as the sales reports reveal just how much of their books are read. Things are going to get ugly for some.

Meanwhile, ranting on the forums still insists that our “Shagging Plumbers-R-Us” saga has equal literary merit to Lord Of The Rings, that it takes exactly the same effort to write 5000 words as it does for 500,000 words, and that all authors should be paid the same KU/KOLL royalty fee for any book regardless of a title’s length, page count, quality, grammar, spelling and any discount plumbing vouchers included inside. Hysterical, panicked shrieking is being heard everywhere on the internet and there’s no plumbers involved at all. Some of it is possibly the gurgling death throes of a Golden Goose. One commentator even claims that most erotica is written by wheelchair-bound, disabled veterans and these changes will hugely impact health care system around the world as incomes are slashed. Hmm… right.

Me, I’m quietly confident my books will be read and in the overall scheme of things the new KU/KOLL system is fair and worthwhile. Besides, I haven’t any more time to worry about it.

I’ve got this idea for a new book that’s about a carpenter who’s called to the home of a lonely, bored housewife and when he arrives, she accidentally turns on the garden sprinkler, soaking his shirt… I’m not going to tell you any more, in case you guess the ending.


My latest Horror Story is available from Amazon.

Bedtime Story Cover

It was just a bed — an ordinary, albeit antique bed for the spare room. Until we learn that a hundred years earlier a woman called Rose, who practised in the occult and dark magic, slept in it. Now Rose’s unhappy spirit comes as part of the deal. Rose’s angry ghost comes with the bed.
Angela and Nathan are a young couple, married only two years before, both of them professionals. They’re happy and in love, although the pressures of modern life can be challenging some days. The antique bed is just right for the spare room in their expensive apartment.
Rose’s spirit doesn’t like happy marriages unless you’re prepared to wed the Devil.
Sleeping in the bed promises erotic dreams with perfect lovers — more passionate and daring than your wife, more considerate and satisfying than your husband. Before long, the dreams are much better than reality.
Three’s a crowd in any relationship even when one person is already dead.


My Latest Book is Released

One of the good things about being a long-established author these days is that several manuscripts that in the past never saw the book store bookshelves can be self-published instead. We’ve all got ’em. Plenty of manuscripts – not just mine – are rejected by publishers, because they don’t fit a certain criteria or their “list”. It’s not about whether the book is good enough or not.

I always had a lot of faith in The Mirror Of Madness and it bugged me no one saw its potential. So I’m really glad of the opportunity to publish it for myself. Of course, it needed a good editing spit-and-polish, then I had to design the cover. This is the end result. I’m calling it a paranormal fantasy, but it’s also all about modern witchcraft.

Here’s the Amazon US link

Mirror Cover High Res

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