Friday, October 31, 2014

October 2014 reading challenge - Halloween costumes

As usual, there was another reading challenge on one of the groups I'm on over on Goodreads.

This month's reading challenge was to read books to represent the top 10 Halloween costumes.

I actually got them all read about half way through the month, but decided to hold off posting until today, since it's a Halloween challenge and today is Halloween. So, here's the list, and the details for what I read for each costume:

10. Superman - Read any book with the main character has some sort of power.

The MegaDog Tales 2: The Regal Beagle (MegaDog Tales, #2) by Dale Alderman ~ read on October 8th 2014.

9. Cat Woman - Read any book that contains a feline shifter as one of the characters.

Boil (Salem's Revenge, #2) by David Estes ~ read on October 3rd 2014.

8. Ghost - Read a book that has ghosts in it

Wedding March And Other Ghost Stories by Timothy Frost ~ read on October 9th 2014.

7. Princess - Read any book that is magical or maybe in a magical kingdom OR a book that is classified as "Fantasy"

The Ice Princess by Katie M John ~ read on October 17th 2014.

6. Vixen - Read a book that contains bad girls or mean girls OR a book that is classified as "Thriller"

Upside Down Fairy Stories: Wolfie And The Red Hoods by Janine Everall ~ read on October 5th 2014.

5. Zombie's - Read a book that contains zombies OR read a book that's classified as "horror."

900 Miles: A Zombie Novel by S. Johnathan Davis ~ read on October 4th 2014.

4. Batman - Read a graphic novel OR read a book that contains superheroes.

The MegaDog Tales: Unleash The Power (MegaDog Tales, #1) by Dale Alderman ~ read on October 7th 2014.

3. Pirate - Read a book that at least partially takes place at sea OR read a book with a body of water on its cover.

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift ~ read on October 1st 2014.

2. Vampire - Read a book that contains vampires OR read a book classified as "paranormal."

Time Immortal: Tales Of Marcus, The Blind Vampire by Laura A. Ellison ~ read on October 6th 2014.

1. Witch - Witch. This costume is a timeless classic. Read a book that contains witches OR read a book classified as a classic.

Brew (Salem's Revenge, #1) by David Estes ~ read on October 2nd 2014.


Happy Halloween!

Blessed Samhain!

Or whatever the appropriate holiday greeting is for what you celebrate today (if anything)!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

R.I.P. Lucy

Almost nine years ago, we took in a Yorkshire Terrier puppy named Lucy. We already had her sister, Jayde. Shortly afterwards, we were forced to rehome both the Yorkie pups. Jayde went to live with my Grandma, and Lucy went to live with Helen and Tom (good friends of my friend, Corinne). Kelly and I were both sad to see the girls go, but we know they both went to good homes, where they could be loved and pampered, like all good pets should be!

It seems like only yesterday we were saying Goodbye to them, but the girls celebrated their ninth birthday on September 3rd 2014.

On Monday we got some sad news: Lucy had died during the night.

I know she was loved, and will be missed very much. Helen and Tom gave her a wonderful life, which any dog would be pleased with; Lucy meant the world to them and was very happy.

Rest in peace dear Lucy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie - officially released today!

"When Vinnie the zombie smashes his way in to the fruit and vegetable shop where six year old Annie is waiting in hiding for her Mother to come back for her, Annie isn’t sure what to do. But Vinnie isn’t like other zombies. A vegetarian in life, it looks like Vinnie may also be one in death, and it may not be Annie who’s in danger after all."

That's the synopsis for "Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie" which is my latest book, written in response to my own musings about whether a vegetarian would remain one if they became a zombie, or give in to the urges for flesh and brains zombies are generally known for.

You can already buy it from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as a couple of other ebook retailers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Kindle accessability continued

Next month is my birthday, so Kelly said I could have my Kindle as my birthday present from him, but I could have it early.

As it turned out, the Kindle I had from my Dad to use while figuring out the best option for me to have for a new ereader and the Kindle Fire 6 we ordered me as an early birthday present arrived at the same time. I thought it would take Amazon longer to get my Kindle to me, but apparently they decided I needed it quickly. Not that I'm complaining, LOL!

Anyway, the Kindle Fire 6 does speak like it's supposed to. In fact, when we turned the accessability features on it immediately brought up a tutorial to show you how to make it work, which I was impressed about, and which gave me a nice head start on figuring out how to make touch screen technology work when you can't see what you're doing.

I've not quite gotten the hang of it yet. In fact, I have a couple of things I spacifically need to figure out how to do (see below). But I managed to find some books I put on there via USB, pick one, and read some of it (both in continuous reading mode, and by having it select something and tell me what I selected from the book's text). So, I'd say that's a pretty successful start!

It's not linked to my Amazon account yet, because I haven't figured out the touch screen keyboard, and for some reason Amazon doesn't appear to automatically register them any more. So, that's something I need to sort out pretty soon.

Also, the time on it is out by an hour right now, because it doesn't seem to have figured out the difference between standard time and Summer time. But since the clocks will be changing soon anyway, I'm not going to worry about trying to change it. Hopefully it will stay as it is when the clocks go back an hour, and then I can worry about how to fix it when the clocks go forward again in March. That way it gives me time to figure out what I'm doing properly... And maybe by then I'll know how to change the time on it? LOL!

The other thing I'm trying to figure out and haven't yet is the fact it keeps insisting on having a constant connection to the internet (thankfully through my home internet, so it's not costing me anything). I wouldn't mind this, but keeping it connected really eats up the battery life, and since the battery goes quickly when you have to have any kind of speaking software activated on a battery powered device anyway... Well, I'm sure you get my point. So, I need to figure out how to make it stay set to only connect when I ask it to. It will be in the settings somewhere... I've just got to find it.

I think though, that since I've only had it since Thursday, I'm doing well with figuring it out. And, anyway, it's talking to me, I haven't had to ask Kelly to tell me what it wants since the accessability feature got turned on, and I haven't broken anything, so that's what really matters, right?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Toby character profile

Want to know a few things about my character, Toby, from my "Toby's Tales" series?

Then go to and check out his character profile.

It's not a character interview; more a character profile. But you may learn something you didn't know about young Toby.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

All about a birthday and ereaders

Today is my brother's birthday. I doubt he'll read this, but I'm going to say it anyway... Happy birthday, Carl!


I've decided I'm going to try out the Kindle accessability first.

The Kindles are cheaper (not always by much; depending on the model) so I figure I'll try the cheaper option first. If Amazon's information is correct, I should be able to get one for a reasonable price that I can use. Though, I will have to adapt to using touch screen. But, I'd have to do that either way, and Carl manages to use touch screen, so I know it can be done by the blind; I'll just need time to get used to it.

My Dad wants to upgrade his Kindle to one with a backlit screen (which the Kindle Keyboards don't have) so I'm having his 3 year old Kindle Keyboard from him to use while I sort out a new ereader for myself, since we know the Keyboard definitely works for me (that's what I had that died). It's supposed to get here today.

When I get sorted out with a new ereader that works for me, Kelly's going to have Dad's old one, because he only wants an ereader to read pdfs of rulebooks on (mostly for roleplaying games; he gets a lot of them from DriveThrough RPG). I didn't use pdfs on my Kindle, but I know it does read them. Anyway, we were going to get Kelly a cheap ereader for his pdfs, but we figure this way I guarantee to have ereader accessability back quickly. Plus, I know Dad's Kindle currently works perfectly (it's never had the glitch mine had when I got it two years ago, and doesn't get nearly as much use as mine did). Later on - like when Dad's old Kindle stops working - we'll get Kelly a new one.

So, I'll have a Kindle I can use by the end of today, and Kelly will have one pretty soon too!

There has been one positive thing about my lack of a Kindle though... I've gotten through most of the short books I had as pdfs on my computer in this past week and a half, and put a nice dent in my "to read" pile. I'll get a couple more read today. Most of them I do have copies of for the Kindle too, but some I only had as pdfs, which - as I already mentioned - I don't usually put on the Kindle.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

To Kill A Curse is LIVE!

"Roberta’s had a year of hell. From fighting a deadly curse, to discovering a parallel realm hiding in the shadows of her own world, she’s narrowly missed death on many occasions. As both friends and foe have fallen, she’s miraculously survived. Though, with giant wolves, doppelgängers and her greatest nemesis’s minions around every corner, she’s not sure how.

Now, torn from her loved ones and trying to survive in an alien land, she’s tasked with her most difficult challenge to date; destroy an ancient evil and save two worlds whilst she’s at it.

In the world of Gathin, Roberta’s had to rely on those once considered the enemy, and their relationships are strained even further in her last attempt to find vengeance for those she’s lost. Meanwhile, with Susan and Sam battling to protect Ridgewood from it’s greatest ever threat, the burden to survive and conquer until the bitter end is once again placed upon Roberta’s shoulders."

Grab the final book in the "Inside Evil" series today:
Amazon Canada:
Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

My review:
"With an interesting and believable cast of characters, a plot that will keep you guessing until the end, plus fantastic descriptions, this was an excellent ending to the series, and as well-written as the other books in the series; maybe even better!"


About the author:
"Geoff Wakeling lives in London and escapes the smog of the city through his writing. The Inside Evil, even though being dark and mysterious, was a way to escape the drudgery of every day life and indulge in something a little more fantastical.

With a degree in Zoology, Wakeling is animal mad and has three cats, fish and five chickens in his London home. He is a keen gardener and conservationist. He is also still awaiting the arrival of his Hogwart’s Owl!"

Find him on:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Questions nobody asked me

I've done a lot of author interviews, and answered many questions. But, just because I can, here are a couple of questions I've seen asked in author interviews, or on "ask the author" threads, but don't remember being asked myself, and the answers I'd have given to them if someone had asked me:

1. How do you come up with your character names, and the titles for your books?

"When it comes to titles, some of my titles just come to me, others come after some serious thinking time. But all have one thing in common: they reference either an important event from the story, the main character, or both. For example, ‘Quest For The Purple Pumpkin’ refers to the fact that Polly goes on a quest to find the purple pumpkin, and ‘Vinnie The Vegetarian Zombie’ is a book about a vegetarian turned zombie named Vinnie.

When it comes to character names, mostly I pick them for their meanings, and search baby name sites for names that mean things that fit the type of characters, or look up words in other languages that have the meaning I'm looking for (that's how I got the name for Neige from 'Cubby And The Beanstalk'). Other times I pick them because they're the name of the pet I'm basing my story on (like with Kero from the 'Kero's World' series). They also sometimes pick themselves, and I only change them if they don’t feel right to me, or if my association with the name, or the meaning of the name, is all wrong for how I view the character. There have also been a few names I got by either randomly putting together syllables associated with names for those races in popular fiction (which is how I got the names for Arael and Derwyn from ‘Quest For The Purple Pumpkin’) or using the name generating option on the Hero Lab program for the Pathfinder roleplaying system, when I use it to help along my character creation process (which is how I got the names for Ardul and Rith from 'Snowball The Oddball Kobold'). However I pick the name though, I look for one I like, one that feels right for the character, and one that's not too difficult to pronounce."

2. If you could visit - or live in - any fantasy world, which one would you pick? Why?

"Narnia, because then I could be surrounded by talking animals, and meet Aslan the lion."

3. If you could have lunch with a fictional character, who would you pick? Why?

"I'd like to pick two: Aslan and Luna Lovegood. Aslan from the Narnia books, because he's a talking lion, and also very wise, so would quite likely have some interesting things to say. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books, because I like her unique way of looking at the world, and I think she would make lunch fun and entertaining."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Kindle update

So, yeah... My Kindle is dead. After several days of attempted charges (with two different chargers) and attempts at connecting it to the computer, we're getting nothing. And, yes, Kelly had a look too, in case it just decided to stop talking and needs that turned back on (which happened once).

I also tried the Kindle for PC thing again, in case the recently updated Jaws will work with it. But it won't. It will navigate the menus now, which is a start, but that's it. I tried every single keystroke that's meant to make it read things out, and it was having none of it. So, the Kindle for PC thing is out, as I suspected.

We looked at the Kindles on Amazon. Of course, the ones with all the features I need are the newer ones, which naturally makes them the more expensive options. Big surprise there, I don't think!

With that in mind, I decided to talk to Apple, since I know for a fact the "Speak Screen" software their ipods and ipads come with as standard works for the visually impaired, since my brother, Carl, has an iPhone, which he manages to use (he was fiddling with it when he was visiting a couple of weeks ago). So, I called Apple and the guy actually tried out the accessability of the Kindle App using his own Apple iPad-mini while I was on the phone with him. And, yes, it worked; the speaking software read out the book he opened up.

This leaves me with two options:

1. Get a Kindle, and hope it works, though I may have limited accessability when it comes to most features. Amazon insist there will be no issue with accessability though.

2. Pay just a little more, get an iPad, know it works, and that other features it has will work for me.

It's nice to have options. Though kind of frustrating that either way it's going to cost me a couple of hundred pounds.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Kindle accessability

I think there's something wrong with my Kindle. I'm trying to give it a good charge and hope that helps, but so far it's not really doing much. It's had this little glitch where it turns off randomly since I got it. I don't mean going on standby with the screensaver thing, which many ereaders do. I mean actually just suddenly going from being in the middle of reading something to being completely turned off (without even so much as a "turning off" - which is what I usually hear when turning it off). But that wasn't really causing me more than a minor inconvenience from time to time, so I ignored it. Plus, since I got my Kindle Keyboard when Amazon were no longer making them, I got it off ebay, and with that there was no guarantee it was definitely brand new (and I'm pretty sure it wasn't, but was just "as new"). It's worked hard for me in the pretty close to 2 years I've had it!

Luckily, many of my ebooks are from Smashwords where they have multiple formats, so while I figure it out I don't have to ignore the pile of books waiting for me to read them, since I still have things I can read using my computer. Many others need a Kindle though. Before anyone mentions it... The Kindle for PC thing doesn't work. Well, I mean, it does work, but JAWS (my screen reader) won't read the text of the books, and the text to speech feature isn't part of it.

Anyway, just in case I have no luck persuading my Kindle to work, I contacted Amazon. They think it might be dead too, but I managed to find out some interesting information for if - as we suspect - I need to replace it.

It turns out Amazon have now started thinking about accessability for the visually impaired. Most likely because Apple were stealing their customers. But, regardless of the reason, they are.

I got the following information from them about it:


With accessibility features, you can navigate your Fire with special gestures and read aloud the selections you make onscreen.

Fire 2nd Generation and Fire HD 1st Generation have the following accessibility features:
- Voice Guide allows you to hear spoken menus, selectable items, and descriptions when touching the screen.
- Explore by Touch allows you to use special gestures while navigating your Fire.
- Orientation Lock disables screen rotation.

To turn on accessibility features:
1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to open Quick Settings, and then tap More.
2. Tap Accessibility.

Fire HD and Fire HDX have the following accessibility features:
- Screen Reader allows you to hear spoken menus, selectable items, and descriptions when touching the screen.
- Reading Speed allows you to adjust the speed of the speaking voice when Screen Reader is turned.
- Explore by Touch allows you to use special gestures while navigating their Fire.
- Screen Magnifier allows you to zoom in the screen.
- Use Large Font Size increases the size of menu items.
- Closed Captioning adds captions to videos when available.
- Convert Stereo to Mono plays all audio through a single channel.

To turn on accessibility features:
1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to open Quick Actions, and then tap Settings.
2. Tap Accessibility.

To turn on Screen Reader and Explore by Touch from any screen, press the Power button until you hear an alert, and then place two fingers (slightly apart) on the screen and hold for five seconds.

To learn more about accessibility on our all-new Fire devices, go to:


The above is the contents of an e-mail I was sent to confirm what we discussed on the phone.

I thought I'd share the information for the benifit of anyone interested, or anyone else who may need to know about the accessability of ereaders for blind and partially sighted book lovers.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Stormy Monday - October 6th 2014 (FD)

It's a stormy Monday morning; perfect for water dwelling creatures, like ducks, water sprites, and sea fairies. Not so nice for the foxes, squirrels, and pixies, who prefer dryer weather (pixies can't fly if they're wings get wet). But, regardless of the inconvenience to pixies, ice giants are blowing their chilly breath across the land, while skybears water the Earth from up in the clouds they call home.

I, on the other hand, am sitting at my desk pretending to be doing something useful, when I'm actually just writing this blog post. I'd say not to tell anyone, but since I'm publishing this online, where anyone can see it, that would be a pointless request, don't you think?

It's not like I really have anything important - or, even very interesting - to post about, since all I've really done in the past couple of days is the usual day to day stuff: feed and play with the degus and gerbils, do housework, etc. But, I'm writing a post anyway.

This morning, for example, I made sure I was up to date with sorting ratings and reviews on Goodreads for what I read over the weekend, had some egg on toast for breakfast, then I spent some time looking up names with certain meanings for characters for upcoming stories, and pretty soon I'll be working on some writing. I've also made a start on todays chores, and given the degus and gerbils breakfast and a bit of attention. Once I'm done writing, I'll do some more chores, then either read and then take a nap, or nap and then read, depending on if I'm tired and sleepy or not. Then it will be dinner time for me.

Like I said, nothing either exciting or interesting. I just thought I'd stop by and post something.

Well, there is one interesting thing about today... Today is AliceKay's birthday! So, happy birthday, AliceKay!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Random ramblings - October 3rd 2014 (FD)

How did we get a couple of days in to October already?


I often mean to sit down and do a blog post about how my day has been, or what I've been up to lately. But I somehow never get to it.

Not that I really have anything exciting to say about most days, since my days mostly contain the same activities but in different orders. I sometimes think of the people out there who read blogs as a way to take a peek in to the lives of others though.

I used to do blog posts like those all the time, but - like I said - I somehow don't end up doing them these days.

Well, I'm still not really doing one of those posts today, but I am going to give you a bit of a change from all the book related posts I've posted over the past couple of weeks, and post a few random bits and pieces I'd have mentioned if I'd been doing the posts about my day to day life I was just talking about.


My Dad, Dad's girlfriend, my Nan, and one of my brothers (Carl) came for a visit last weekend.

We had take-away Friday night; Indian food for most of us, but Kelly had pizza and Nan had fish and chips (neither of them are that keen on Indian food). Then we had breakfast at the café by the train station that's called "Alpha Cafe" on Saturday morning; cooked breakfasts for everyone but me (I just had an egg baguette).

On Friday evening we also tried out the new "Star Wars: Edge Of The Empire" roleplaying system. It was fun, and a pretty simple system to get to grips with. At least, I thought so.

Click here to watch a clip for the game on YouTube.

After breakfast on Saturday we all caught a taxi in to the old part of town (where Kelly and I don't usually go, since we usually go in on the train and it's quite a walk from the station to that part of town). We were also going to go along the seafront and take some photos, but by the time we'd gone through town I just wanted to go home and rest.


Kelly and I were playing with some online quizzes the other day. Apparently...

According to two different quizzes... The mythological creature I have living inside me is a dragon, and I should be a fire dragon if I'm an elemental dragon. Funnily enough, we were discussing what creature I'd be if I could be a non-human creature on my Goodreads author of the month thread only the day before I did those quizzes, and it was a dragon I picked.

According to two other quizzes, the member of the X-Men I would be is Kitty Pride, and I'd be a Wookie if I was in Star Wars.

Also, I'm officially considered weird according to a quiz to see how weird you are.


We ended up replacing the degu cage. The cage was only a year old, but we noticed rust on it and thought it best to replace it before it got worse (especially with all our attempts to stop the degus gnawing on the bars being unsuccessful).

I don't begrudge the degus a penny of the money the cages cost, but I couldn't help having a bit of a moan about the fact they cost so much, yet don't last like they should. It can't be helped though; if that's what they cost, then that's what we have to pay... Whether I like it or not. It's ridiculous though!

Anyway, we should have a couple of photos of the new cage on the camera, which we'll sort out some time soon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Brew and Boil release bash

Salem’s Revenge strikes without warning or mercy, ravaging the powerless human race under the forces of united gangs of witches, wizards, and warlocks. During the slaughter, Rhett Carter's foster parents and sister are killed, and his best friend and girlfriend are abducted by a gang of witches calling themselves the Necromancers, who deal in the dark magic of raising the dead. Rhett’s sword-wielding neighbor with a mysterious past saves Rhett from becoming another casualty of the massacre and teaches him the skills he needs to survive in this new world.

Rhett is broken, his normal high school life of book blogging and football playing shoved in a witch-apocalyptic blender. The only thing he has left is his burning desire for revenge. Armed with his new witch hunting skills and a loyal, magic powered dog named Hex, he sets out into the unknown with one mission: hunt and destroy those who took away everyone he ever loved.

But Rhett isn’t just a witch hunter; He has secrets of his own that he has yet to discover, secrets that his enemies will stop at nothing to keep him from.

And discovering the truth about himself is the human race’s only hope.
Revenge. That’s all that’s left for witch hunter Rhett Carter. The magic-born have stripped everything from him - killed his friends, cursed his warlock father, shattered his future - leaving him bare and broken, but not dead. Their mistake.

When Rhett and Laney are suddenly thrust in different directions, Rhett must decide who to trust and who to kill. Backed by his trusty canine sidekick Hex, Rhett will embark on his deadliest mission yet, one that will lead him directly toward those who want him dead, pushing his unique resistance to magic to the edge and back again as he tries to remove his father’s curse.

Separated from Rhett, Laney seeks to understand the strange changes to her sister, Trish, who’s believed to be the last living Clairvoyant, and what role she’s destined to play in the future of humankind.

Wrapped around everything are four major groups: the Necromancers, the Changelings, the witch hunters, and New America, the remnants of humanity. When the major forces are brought together for an epic battle, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Click to purchase BREW

Get both Brew and its sequel, Boil, the first two books in the Salem's Revenge series, for a special price of $0.99 each for a limited time only (Amazon Kindle exclusive: Brew until October 17th; Boil until October 7th) Click on the above buttons to take advantage of this limited time deal!

Goodreads  ●  David's Blog    Twitter  ●  Facebook    Tumblr  and his  Goodreads Fan Group      

David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. David grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife. They now live together in their dream location, Hawaii. A reader all his life, he began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and started writing full time in June 2012. Now he travels the world writing with his wife, Adele. David's a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.

To celebrate the launch of Brew and Boil, David Estes is also giving away FREE Kindle copies of his popular YA dystopian AND adventure book, Fire Country. Just click the above link to nab your free copy.