Ursus on Kindle

Ursus Front Cover

It’s taken an absolute age, but finally the Kindle version is out. Just click on the cover to take you to Amazon.com. This is a book for tiny tots, written by me in 2012, and illustrated by the New Zealand illustrator Frances Hutt.

Because I am no longer associated with the small press IFWG, based in Melbourne, Australia, any and all royalties for its sale and that of the paperback version go to Francis, not me. Help her out folks, she did a superb job. Buy a copy.



More from our Michael 🙂


Welcome to another Jecks wittering.
There are times when I sit at my desk and type and think about all kinds of happy things. There are times when I happily wallow in blood and guts in my mind – which is why I, like most crime writers, am such a well-balanced, pleasant, amiable fellow. I get all my violence out on the page, rather than in the street. I remember someone making the observation that someone had brought murder back into the home, where it belongs, but I tend to have my killings in fields, backstreets or other places. I don’t think homes are suitable for murder.
But I was working happily on Saturday night, when murder entered my heart. Family dispute? No. Litigation? No. The price of beer? No, not even that.
I was infected with computer blues.
Put it like this. There I was, happily playing with three…

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Once again silly season is upon us


Ok, own up! Which total numpkin came up with the bizarre concept of daylight saving?

The clocks here in the UK went forward in the early hours of yesterday morning (Sunday 29th). Why it was decided that 2am is the appropriate time to make the change totally escapes me, let alone why it happens. But there you are. Until voters around the world demand their respective governments get rid of it, it’s here to stay, more’s the pity!

Truth be told, some bureaucrat probably drew a number out of his hat to decide what hour was best for the change over, after another of his kind had first decided that mucking around with time was a good idea. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the latter of the two received an award for coming up with the totally nonsensical notion!

Face it – we’re all idiots! Who actually benefits from changing their clock? No one! Those who swallow the myth that we somehow gain because of it, quite frankly need their bumps felt. The number of hours in a day remains exactly the same, no matter whether its during the daylight saving period or not – 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.1 seconds, plus or minus a few thousandths.

Yes it is true that we gradually experience more hours of daylight during the summer months. But it has absolutely nothing to do with putting our clocks forward by an hour. Conversely, putting our clocks back in autumn does not change the number of hours in a day either. Instead, summer and winter has everything to do with the angle of the Earth at a given moment in time when it is rotating around the Sun.

I hate to point out the patently obvious here, but moving a clock back or forth by an hour achieves absolutely nothing, except to fool the totally thick among us into believing they are getting something for nothing. Think about it folks – does the Earth speed up as it travels around the Sun to comply with big businesses demands on you the worker? No of course it doesn’t. So why does every nation insist on doing it? Who actually benefits from this grand illusion? Certainly not the general public. Nor the business world, truth be told.

No amount of clock changing governs when we go to bed or wake up. We sleep when we’re tired. We wake up after we have rejuvinated ourselves in the arms of Morpheus. No amount of putting our clocks forward an hour in spring time and back in autumn, will ever change that! We still work the same amount of hours each day. Changing the clocks back and forth doesn’t change that either.

So, come on people wake up to the total absurdity of Summer Time. You know it makes no sense whatsoever. So why change our clocks for goodness sake? It is yet another pointless exercise which has become an accepted part of life. If you want to celibrate anything connected with summer and winter, observe the equinoxes, the time or date twice each year when the sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of equal length, approximately on the twenty-second of September, and the twentieth of March each year. Now that makes total sense, unlike the clock changing codswallop!

What most people forget, especially bureaucracy, is that time is a constant. Mankind cannot change it to suit itself, no matter how much it kids itself, believing it can.

PS – if you are one of the half wits who actually believes the fairy tale known as daylight saving, I apologize for bursting your collective bubble with rationality – not!


I would prefer not to

I enjoyed reading this folks. 🙂


ba2The paths of rebellion are just few. You may choose to fight the system, aiming at destroying it or you may create antithetical models, thus proving the mediocrity of the normal standards of behaviour, just like European aesthetes did in the nineteenth century with the purpose of undermining the pillars of bourgeois values such as materialism, respectability and the pursuit of wealth. Some of them labeled as dandies considered themselves the depositary of taste and embodied unattainable models of elegance and savoir-vivre, some others who were called Bohemians chose to live marginalized. They were, as William Makepeace Thackeray said, “ artists or littérateur who, consciously or unconsciously, secedes from conventionality in life and in art” rejecting permanent residence and surviving on little material wealth.

ba3They were seen like gypsies, in fact, they were called Bohemians as it was common belief that gypsies came from Bohemia. In Paris  many of them…

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The written word and I


Evelyn Waugh – Born October 28, 1903. Died April 10, 1966


I was listening to an old radio interview with the English writer Evelyn Waugh a couple of nights back on BBC Radio 4 extra, first recorded in the nineteen fifties. He is probably best known for the iconic television series Brideshead Revisited. Towards the end of the interview he was asked if writing got any easier as he grew older. I thoroughly agreed with him when he said, “No. The older I get, the harder it is to write.”

While I’m no Eveylyn Waugh by any stretch of the imagination, the older I get the more I go through the same thing he did. My latest science fiction work in progress – The Guardian is a case in point.

Does it mean I’ve come to a grinding halt? No. Perhaps I have run out of ideas? No. Maybe I’m bored with it? No. Could it be that I’m suffering from procrastination? No.

What it does mean however is that with eight books of mine out there in reader-land for you to be getting on with, I am in no hurry to finish the ninth. Like all other serious writers, I strive to improve with each new book. Plus, writing for 8-12 hours per day, seven days a week is not the way to go about it, unless you want to suffer total burn out. Writers don’t just write. We have a life.

Daily word counts no longer matter to me the way they did twenty years ago. What does is the way I construct the words and their relevance to the story as a whole. Plus, unless I’m in the mood to write, it simply doesn’t happen.

With each chapter, each paragraph, each sentence I write, they no longer flow freely. Instead I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to say. More importantly, how I want to go about it. The fact that I haven’t written another word in my WIP for over two weeks is neither here nor there. When the mood takes me, I’ll get back to it. But not before.


With science fiction being my first love, I found and posted a quote from Ray Bradbury on my Face Book page the day before yesterday. Here it is:


My sentiments exactly Ray. I couldn’t have said it better myself…


PS – I see WordPress has decided that not only is the old Stats page no longer automatically available, but also the old familiar, tried and tested Add Blog Posts page as well! At the time of writing this post WordPress switched it back and forth between both versions. Most annoying! I don’t know about you, but I hate change for change sake. I really wish they would stop imposing upon us what they want us to use, especially when the originals worked, and worked well I might add. My biggest gripe with the new blog post composition page is that WordPress has shrunk the damned workspace!

Bah Humbug!!!


Should I Use A Publisher? 10 Questions To Ask | Just Publishing

Given what happened to Leila Samarrai recently, she has now learnt the hard way that everything is not as it seems in the often murky periphery of the literary world. Happily Leila has now found someone trustworthy to translate her work Till Words Do Us Part, from her native Serbian into English.

The accompanying post below could not be more timely, or indeed relevant, not only for her but for all of you. As usual, Derek states the blindingly obvious. Like myself, he has been writing for years. If someone like Derek or I don’t drum some much needed common sense into your heads, who will? Remember that both of us have learnt the hard way. So pay attention!

Face it people, we’re in a cut-throat business. The writing game isn’t for the faint hearted, easily offended, or the blissfully naive among us. If you want to survive within the literary world, you have to be made of far sterner stuff and above all, be wide awake when dealing with anyone offering services to writers, particularly if they want you to part with some of your hard earned cash. Poor Leila found that out.

As for landing a publisher, one who is actually prepared to edit, format, publish and promote your book these days, believe me, they are non existant! None of the five major publishing houses do it. So why would you expect to find a small press prepared to do everything for you?

Yes most will at least offer editing, formatting and cover design as well as publishing. But that is it these days, which is why both Derek and I prefer the Indie route to what’s currently on offer. Besides, both of us are Anzacs. He is from Australia, now living in Switzerland. I was born here in the UK, but spent the largest chunk of my life in New Zealand, before returning to my birthplace. In other words we both come from practical backgrounds where you learn to do everything for yourself. It teaches you so much.

But, if you don’t want to go down the full Indie route like us, the ten questions Derek has clearly set out here need to become the standard ones you employ when talking to any publisher. Why? To save yourselves a lot of trouble. Never ever rush in to any deal offered to you, no matter how good it sounds. Ask these questions first! If the publisher is in any way reticent, avoid like the plague.

Now read and inwardly digest.

Should I Use A Publisher? 10 Questions To Ask | Just Publishing.