International Kittens of Mystery

Medium Dead

Some of you may remember that a year or two ago, I asked for beta readers for my fun urban fantasy, Medium Dead. Well .... it's now out.

Here's the blurb:

Medium Dead is a fun urban fantasy chronicling the crime-fighting adventures of Brenda – a reluctant medium – and Brian – a Vigilante Demon with an impish sense of humour. Think Stephanie Plum with magic and a dash of Carl Hiaasen.

Brenda Steele is smart, funny and out of her depth. A Vigilante Demon called Brian wants her to find murdered spirits and help him track down their killers. But Brian doesn't just catch criminals, he likes to play with them first, and make the punishment fit the crime. As he tells Brenda, “if all you did was turn up, capture the bad guy then leave – century after century – you'd die of boredom.”

He's also reckless – his last partner died during one of his takedowns.

Along the way, Brenda discovers that Brian isn't as old, or as powerful, as he led her to believe. He might even be human. Whereas the murderer they're hunting, and the child he's holding prisoner, might not.

The book only costs $3.99 and can be bought from BVC, Amazon US, Amazon UK and all the main online retailers. 
International Kittens of Mystery

Wodehouse Steampunk!

What Ho CoverYes, it's out! What Ho, Automaton! my Wodehouse Steampunk ebook is officially released today. Here's the blurb:

What Ho, Automaton! chronicles the adventures of Reggie Worcester, consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves.

Reggie, an avid reader of detective fiction, knows two things about solving crime: One, the guilty party is always the person you least suspect. And, two, The Murders in the Rue Morgue would have been solved a lot sooner had the detective the foresight to ask the witnesses if they’d seen any orang-utans recently. Reeves needs all his steam-powered cunning and intellect to curb the young master’s excessive flights of fancy. And prevent him from getting engaged.

Mystery, Zeppelins, Aunts and Humour. A steam-powered Wodehouse pastiche.

You can read a sample here, or buy the ebook at BVC or Amazon for the bargain price of $2.99.
International Kittens of Mystery

New Steampunk Anthology

Back in November I posted an extract of "What Ho! Automaton," my Wodehouse steampunk novelette.

Well, the anthology is now out, and here's the blurb and ToC :
Exclusively from Book View Cafe: THE SHADOW CONSPIRACY II, sequel to the highly praised anthology THE SHADOW CONSPIRACY – Tales of the Steam Age.The soul of the poet who would be king still seeks immortality — but will it find a home? And will that home be flesh or steel?  Edited by Phyllis Irene Radford and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, this new volume is filled with original tales of adventure and intrigue in the age of steam from minds and hearts of the award-winning and bestselling authors at Book View Café.

Get a free preview today.   “Nuthin’ But a Man,” by Philip K. Dick award winner CL Anderson is a new take on the original steampunk hero — the steel-driving man, John Henry.

BUY NOW: $4.99


“Mad Bad Richard Dadd,” by Amy Sterling Casil
“The Peculiar Case of Sir Willoughby Smythe,” by Judith Tarr
“Pirate Queen of French Prairie,” by Irene Radford
“The Maiden Mechanical,” by Brenda Clough
“Shadow of Kilimanjaro,” by Sue Lange
“Nuthin’ but a Man,” by C.L. Anderson
“Abide with Me,” by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
“Steel Seraph,” by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
“New Lives,” by Nancy Jane Moore
“Clair de Lune,” by Pati Nagle
“What Ho! Automaton,” by Chris Dolley 

International Kittens of Mystery

What Ho! Automaton

As I haven't posted here for some while - I've been away blogging every Saturday at Book View Cafe - I thought I'd post a snippet from a new story. It's a steampunk version of Jeeves and Wooster set a generation earlier in the Shadow Conspiracy world of 1903. It'll be appearing in the book, Shadow Conspiracy 2, coming out in Jan/Feb of next year from Book View Cafe. One of the stories from the first Shadow Conspiracy volume was a finalist for the Sidewise Award.

Anyway, here's a small extract. The complete story is 8,200 words.

What Ho! Automaton  

I think aunts must have come into being on the seventh day when God took his eye off the ball. Let there be light – no quibbles there. Let there be small furry animals – we Woosters have always been strong supporters of our fluffier friends. But let there be aunts? Big mistake. They interfere and have ‘opinions’ which take the form of holy writ. I strongly suspect that Hannibal had an aunt. One that buttonholed him as he was about to set sail for Rome. "Hannibal!" she would have cried. "If you’re off to Rome you must visit your cousin in the Alps. And take those elephants with you. They’re ruining my prize dahlias."

Which was why one Reginald Wooster, put-upon sap of this parish, was staring into a stiff drink at the Drones Club contemplating the inequities of Creation. Not because of elephants – that would have been easy – but because his Aunt Bertha had instructed him to leave immediately for Crandle Castle and extricate his cousin Herbert from an unsuitable engagement.

"Are there any other kind?" I’d asked.

Never attempt repartee with an aunt.

I tried to explain that I was persona non grata at Crandle, having once been engaged to Georgiana Throstlecoombe – until the unfortunate incident with the Pomeranian – and that the young lady in question was certain to be at Crandle and would set the dogs – especially the Pomeranians, who have long memories – upon me the moment I crossed the horizon.

Aunts are impervious to both Latin and Pomeranians.

"Why the long face, Reggie?"

I was snapped back to the present by the arrival of one Lancelot Trussington-Thripp.

"What ho, Stiffy," I said, and then proceeded to give him the low-down on the aunt diktat.

"What you need is a Reeves," said Stiffy.

"A Reeves?"

"Yes, we’ve just found one. He was in a cupboard in the attic."

"Cupboard in the attic?"

My mind boggled on two counts. One, that the club had an attic and, two, that there was a Reeves living up there.

"He must have been there for years," said Stiffy. "He was covered in dust."

My mind reached new heights of boggledom.

"Who, or what, is a Reeves?"

"A dashed brainy automaton," said Stiffy, visibly getting excited and shuffling closer. "He’s dressed like a swami and knows absolutely everything. His brain is positively immense. Barmy’s trying to get him to tell our fortunes."

"Ha!" I said. "Some of us know our fortunes only too well and would rather not be reminded of them."

"Come on, Reggie. Give it a try. He really does know everything. If there’s a way to get out of your Crandle entanglement, Reeves’ll know."

I relented. The Woosters have always had a soft spot for the outsider, and this plan rated a good 100-1 in anyone’s form book.

I followed an excited Stiffy to the billiard room where an even more excited gaggle of fellow Drones were crowded around the far table. No one noticed our arrival. All heads were turned to the figure seated in a chair, which someone had placed upon the billiard table.

Had everyone lost their senses? A chair leg could rip the green baize!

As for the swami automaton chappie: never had I seen such a morose cove, his giant head topped with a pink turban and his shoulders swathed in flowing robes of pinks and orange hues. Machine or not, I felt for the poor blighter. I’d had similar experiences in my childhood – being forced to sit still in the nursery while my older sister, the theatrically inclined Lady Julia, proceeded to dress me up like a prize peacock.

"I say," shouted Stiffy, pushing himself to the head of the throng. "Step aside, Humpy, there’s a good chap. This is an emergency. Reggie has aunt trouble."

Like the Red Sea, when confronted by Moses holding a note from his mother’s sister, the throng parted.

"Come along, Reggie," said Stiffy, beckoning. "Tell all to Reeves."

I recounted my sorry tale, omitting not a single Pomeranian. The Reeves listened intently, nodding his head in the places a living, breathing son of Adam would have felt like inclining his noggin too. As machines went, this Reeves was of the first rank. One could entirely believe he was human.

"Well?" said Stiffy when I’d finished. "Can you save our Reggie, Reeves?"

"There is a strong possibility that I can effect a positive outcome, sir," said Reeves. His voice was most un-machinelike. Not that I’d ever heard a machine speak, but if I had, I’d imagine it would be redolent of gears and punctuated by clanks and puffs of steam escaping from the lips.

I espied not a single puff. This Reeves spoke like an educated cove. Maybe not Oxford, but certainly one of the lesser public schools.

"How?" I asked.

The Reeves took a deep breath. Still no puff of steam, or audible evidence of a piston clanking away in his chest.

"It is a most vexing situation, sir. One necessitating the utmost care and co-ordination. Are you prepared to execute my instructions to the letter?"

"Most certainly. You have the word of a Wooster."

"Very well, sir. You must take me with you to Crandle."


The mind reacquainted itself with outskirts of boggledom.

"My presence at the castle is essential, sir, for I need to see the young gentleman and his intended in order to construct the perfect extrication. One that satisfies all parties, and increases the esteem in which you are held by your Aunt Bertha."

The Wooster lips parted but the tonsil area was bare. I was still mired in Reeves’s last sentence. Could he really put me in Aunt Bertha’s good books? Did she have a good book?

And so it came to pass that in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and three, one Reginald Wooster and his gentleman’s gentle-automaton, Reeves – accoutred now in Saville Row’s finest valetware – left London for the northern climes of the county of Salop and that ancient pile, Crandle Castle.

We made good time; the Stanley Steamer, my second foray into the world of the horseless carriage, behaved itself and required only two stops to take on water.

"Do you need to take on water, Reeves?" I’d asked at the first stop.

"Not at this juncture, sir."

"Well, pray shout when you do. Coal, water, soothing oils. Whatever you require. I don’t wish to return you to the Drones broken."

"Your intention is to return me to that gentleman’s club, sir?"

"Of course. We Woosters have a code. Return what thou hast borrowed."

"A most excellent code, sir, but ... what if the object in question would prefer not to be returned?"


I cogitated for several minutes as my grey cells struggled with the philosophical niceties. When borrowing an umbrella, one does not expect said parapluie to request asylum. Free me, Reginald, let me fly away to Manchester to join others of my kind.

"You have an objection to being returned to the Drones?" I asked.

"If I may be so bold, sir. I did find being locked in a cupboard for fourteen years somewhat less than convivial."

I could see his point.

"How did you come to be locked in a cupboard in the first place?"

"I believe I had been won in a game of cards, sir. The outcome of which was disputed and, for reasons not divulged unto me, I was confined to a cupboard."

"Where you remained until this very day?"

"Indeed, sir. Young gentlemen can be most forgetful."

My conscience was pricked. Had I ever left a manservant in a cupboard? I didn’t think I had, but then if Oxford had been in the habit of handing out blues for memory, the name Reginald Wooster would not have featured.

"Once we’ve finished here, I shall drop you off wherever you wish, Reeves. The world is your cupboard."

"That is most gracious of you, sir."


* * *

International Kittens of Mystery

Brewing Fine Fiction

I've got a couple of articles in the new book on writing, Brewing Fine Fiction, from Book View Cafe. It looks an excellent book if I say so myself. Here's the blurb and ToC:

BREWING FINE FICTION, Advice for Writers From the Authors at Book View Café (ISBN 978-0-9828440-3-8). BVC’s members include international bestselling authors and winners of the National Book Award, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and many others. Most have sold multiple novels to major publishers. Many have taught writing at workshops around the world. The knowledge of these professional authors is gathered into one volume, edited by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff and Pati Nagle, that will help both new and experienced writers cope with the creative challenges and the nuts-and-bolts business issues of a career in writing fiction.

“Check any bookstore and you'll find a host of titles on writing. Some are good, some not so good. Every author has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. But in BREWING FINE FICTION: Advice For Writers From the Bookview Café, you get a smorgasbord of professional advice and expertise. From the plausibility of fantasy, by Ursula LeGuin, to Deborah Ross's comments on reviews, you'll find every facet of the craft and writing life covered. For the wealth of information, experience, and diversity, all under one cover, you can't beat it.”
--Mary Rosenblum, Compton Crook Award winner

Contributors to Brewing Fine Fiction include: Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Amy Sterling Casil, Brenda W. Clough, Lori Devoti, Chris Dolley, Laura Anne Gilman, Sue Lange, Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, Nancy Jane Moore, Pati Nagle, Steven Harper Piziks, Irene Radford, Patricia Rice, Madeleine E. Robins, Deborah J. Ross, Sherwood Smith, Jennifer Stevenson, Judith Tarr, Gerald M. Weinberg, and Sarah Zettel.

In celebration of the launch, BVC is giving out free copies of WAYS TO TRASH YOUR WRITING CAREER.  This ebook is a collection of humorous stories posted to the Book View Cafe blog by the BVC authors describing the fastest ways to bring your writing career to a screeching halt. The compilation is available free of charge to anyone purchasing a copy of BREWING FINE FICTION through the BVC website. It is also for sale as a stand alone for $.99 (

BREWING FINE FICTION is available at the Book View Café website (along with WAYS TO TRASH YOUR WRITING CAREER) for $4.99 in pdf,  epub, mobi, prc, lit, and lrf formats ( BREWING FINE FICTION will be available at Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo, and B&N soon.



The Basics

Pitfalls of Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy
—Vonda N. McIntyre
The Dreaded Info Dump
—Irene Radford
Alien Eyes: Generating Fictional Ideas
—Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
The Theory and Practice of Titles
—Brenda W. Clough
You’re Not a Bad Person. You Just Have Ugly Children.
—Steven Harper Piziks
Plotting Through Writer’s Block
—Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Novel Writing for Novices
—Brenda W. Clough


Can Fantasy be Plausible, and Why Should It Bother?
—Ursula K. Le Guin
Finding Your Voice: Fan Mail From The Future
—Jennifer Stevenson
Using Landscape as a Character
—Irene Radford
Sweating the Little Stuff
—Sherwood Smith
Strunk and White: Fifty Years Is Long Enough
—Nancy Jane Moore
On Being a Professional Amateur
—Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Love or Sex
—Irene Radford
Dig Deeper: How To Make a Good Book a Great Book
—Laura Anne Gilman


The Alien in the Pasture
—Judith Tarr
Steam It Up!
—Sue Lange
The Science in Science Fiction & the Fantasy in Fantasy
—Amy Sterling Casil
The Joys and Dangers of Research
—Pati Nagle

Marketing Your Work

How to Escape from the Slush Pile
—Madeleine E. Robins
Six Step Guide to Query Letters
—Chris Dolley
Crafting a Synopsis That Will Sell
—Irene Radford
How to Build an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy)
—Lori Devoti
The Quest to Find Agent Charming
—Pati Nagle
Bad Contracts
—Steven Harper Piziks
Market Your Heart
—Patricia Rice

The Writer's Life

A Room of One's Own
—Madeleine E. Robins
How to Critique Effectively and Influence Your Fellow Writers
—Nancy Jane Moore
The Write Class
—Steven Harper Piziks
Inside Worldcon: The Writer’s Tour
—Brenda W. Clough
How I Write When There is No Time
—Deborah J. Ross
Permission to Take a Break
—Chris Dolley
How do you DO That?
—Sarah Zettel
Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Ignorable
—Deborah J. Ross
Being Productive
—Gerald M. Weinberg 

International Kittens of Mystery

French Fried: It's out!

Here it is - the book formally known as Nous Sommes Anglais. It's up at Book View Cafe, Amazon and Smashwords for the bargain price of $3.99. It'll be up at B&N, Apple's iBookstore, Kobo, and Sony soon.  

Here's the blurb:  

Animals behaving badly, other people's misfortunes and the most bizarre true crime story ever. French Fried is the unfortunately true account of Chris Dolley’s first eight months in France and has been described as ‘A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell.’

Just when Chris and Shelagh think nothing more could possibly go wrong, they discover that Chris’s identity has been stolen and their life savings – all the money from their house sale in England that was going to finance their new life in France – had disappeared. A bank account had been opened in Chris’s name in Spain to take the proceeds.

Then they’re abandoned by the police forces of four countries who all insist the crime belongs in someone else's jurisdiction. The French say it’s an Irish crime as that’s where the money was held. The Irish say it’s French as that’s where all the correspondence came from. The British say it’s nothing to do with them even though forged British passports were used to open the bank account in Spain. And the Spanish are on holiday – and can’t even think about investigating any bank account for at least four weeks.

So Chris has to solve the crime himself. But unlike fictional detectives he has an 80 year-old mother-in-law and an excitable puppy who insist they come along if he's going anywhere interesting - like a stakeout.

Available (DRM-free) in the following formats: PDF, ePub, Kindle, lit, lrf, and prc.

International Kittens of Mystery

Book Title Help Required

With the publication of Nous Sommes Anglais less than a month a way, doubt has arisen over the title. Will people see the title, assume the book's written in French and ignore it?

I'm beginning to think quite a few people will. What do you think? 

One solution is to emulate other expat memoirs and add a subtitle. Another is to change the title altogether. I've been bouncing ideas around the BVC collective and here are the front runners. Do they work for you? All comments and suggestions welcome.

French Fried: One Man's Move to France With His Wife, Too Many Animals and An Identity Thief 
Nous Sommes Anglais: Mystery and Mayhem in the Pyrenees
Nous Sommes Anglais: Mystery, Mishaps, and Animals
Nous Sommes Anglais: One Man's Move to France With His Wife, Too Many Animals and An Identity Thief   

The full title would only appear in listings. The book cover would have French Fried or Nous Sommes Anglais as the title, with the subtitle as a much smaller tag line.


International Kittens of Mystery

Steampunk Photo Contest

In celebration of Book View Press’ upcoming release of The Shadow Conspiracy Volume II (SCII), Book View Café is holding a steampunk photo contest. The winning photo may even be used on the cover of SC II which is scheduled for publication in December of this year. Prizes for the winning entry will include a copy of The Shadow Conspiracy Vol. I and The Shadow Conspiracy Vol. II, as well as assorted ebooks from BVC authors. Additional photos may be chosen for illustrations in SCII.

Details and rules for the Shadow Conspiracy Extraordinary Steampunk Photo Contest can be found at:
International Kittens of Mystery

Short Update

Lambing: Well, lambing is almost over. We had a single lamb two weeks ago, now we're waiting on a ewe lamb who may or may not be pregnant. All will be known in a fortnight. 

Nous Sommes Anglais: I've started work on the re-write/polish. Hopefully, it'll be ready for release around July. It'll be coming out through Book View Cafe as an eBook and maybe, if there's enough interest and we can keep the price low enough, as a paperback.

Book View Cafe: One of my jobs at Book View Cafe is sub-editor of the newsletter. We've just finished this month's so if you want to see what we've all been up to (most of which seems to be collecting awards or nominations:) take a look here.

New car: New as in 'new to us' not brand new. Seeing as our car is turning 16 this year and no longer a child, we've decided to splash out on a 'new' car. And the winner is.... A Nissan X-Trail. It's six years old and fairly high mileage but the price was good and it's a 4x4 so we can use it on the smallholding to haul logs and hay. It's also our first car with central locking, and child locks, so I expect to be locked in or out at regular intervals. It even has electronic seat warmers so there's plenty of scope for 'interesting' things to go wrong. 

The Garden:Spring has sprung and everything is sprouting except the broccoli which succumbed to the hard winter. Lots of cherry, peach, plum and pear blossom at the moment. Apples to come later. If only our bees were here. We're still waiting to hear when our hive be ready to take delivery. 

International Kittens of Mystery

Dark Matter, String Theory and Kittens

New evidence this week has suggested that Dark Matter is composed of a complex web of superstrings. Not ordinary superstrings – but super chunky, unwashed (hence the dark and dirty colour) double-ply strings.

And that’s not all. The web is brittle. Sometimes large lengths of double-ply superstring will break off and wrap themselves into a very tight ball. A recent NASA study suggested that not only could these string balls attain the size of a small asteroid but they would also be subject to the gravitational pull of nearby objects if they formed within a star’s gravitational influence. With Dark Matter five times as plentiful as ordinary matter in the Universe, the study postulates that the chances of Earth being hit by a string-based asteroid is very real.

This casts doubt upon our current strategy for dealing with asteroids on a collision course with Earth. Not only is Bruce Willis not as young as he was but the assumption has always been that the asteroid would be composed of rock that could be mined and blown up. A tightly wound ball of superstring might behave in a radically different fashion.

Which is where the International Kittens of Mystery come in. Who knows more about unravelling balls of string than a kitten? They have a plan. They have the kittenpower. All they need is the funds to build Wickerbowl Six – their new orbiting space platform.

How can you help?

Well, it just so happens that they’ve brought out a book…

In an uncertain world there is one organisation that stands head and small furry shoulders above the rest. Whenever the planet is in danger – be it from giant balls of wool or bands of renegade squirrels – only one group is guaranteed to answer the call: The International Kittens of Mystery!

This is a journal of their stories. For the first time, cameras have been allowed into one of their top secret training camps – Training Camp Alpha. A camp where, under the supervision of pet humans, recruits are shown not only how to save the world but also how to manage their secret identities – how to blend in and infiltrate the human society that they alone can protect.

If you like a laugh and looking at large colour pictures of cute kittens saving the planet, this is the book for you. It’s the book the iPad was designed for – ask Steve Jobs’ cat.

The book can be downloaded from here: All proceeds from the book go towards the upkeep of the International Kittens of Mystery orbiting space platform.

And it’s not just rogue asteroids they have to deal with. Last week, for example, CERN had an embarrassing problem with their Large Hadron Collider. They found the Higgs boson they’d been searching for only to have it roll under the sofa. Obviously they needed someone small and agile enough to go in after it. Not to mention the dexterity to retrieve a very small object and the patience to wait it out if it decided to hide. Cats have all that in abundance which is why the first call the Head of CERN made was to the International Kittens of Mystery. A team was despatched and the Higgs boson recovered.

Amnesty International’s claims that the Higgs boson had been tortured for an hour prior to recovery are, of course, totally unfounded. The teeth and claw marks on the Higgs boson were innocently produced during the complex recovery process and the stomach found at the scene was coincidental.

And the first reviews are in! Here’s what Andi Schechter thought about the book.