Category Archives: writing

Love and Light published in the US

ten minute plays 2012
Love and Light was published in the US in 2012 in The Best Ten Minute Plays, 2011 – edited by Lawrence Harbinson
Love and Light is one of my most successful plays. Here’s a short synopsis:

Tania’s deceased husband has left her with bills to pay, no job and no idea where he stashed the money. Will consulting a Psychic provide her with the answer she seeks?

The book can be bought on
First Published: 2012
Publisher: Smith and Kraus
ISBN: 978-1-57525-782-2

Published by Smith & Kraus, 2011 (THE BEST TEN-MINUTE PLAYS 2011)

Produced for Ten in 10, Shepparton, Australia, July 20112008

Produced for Short & Sweet Malaysia 2008, Judges’ choice, best runner-up actor (male and female)

Produced for Short & Sweet Melbourne 2008

Produced for “Eight-in-a-Box”, Drama Centre Black Box, Singapore 2009

Produced for Favourite Shorts 2009, Armidale, NSW (WINNER)

Produced for Short and Sweet Sydney 2009

Produced for SHOWOFF!, San Juan Capistrano, California, 2009

Produced for 10 Min Madness Festival, San Diego, 2009

Produced for Pint-Sized Plays 2009 (UK)

Produced for PLAYTIME @ World Bar 2010 (Sydney)

Produced at the Otterbein University in Columbus (Westerville), Ohio, May 2010

Broadcast on, May 2010


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Review of The Sinner, by Tess Gerritsen

I’m back after a year off blogging! Too many things happening at home: a house move, a new job requiring all my energy, constant travelling for work, it was all a bit much, so I decided to let my blog rest. I have been busy though, and have read many books and continued to watch movies and discover new places. I’ll tell  you more in posts to come.


My first post for 2013 is a review of The Sinner, by Tess Gerritsen. I discovered Gerritsen two years ago and have since read many of her novels, in particular those featuring Maura Isles and Jane Rizzoli. Isles is Boston’s Medical Examiner and Rizzoli is a detective. They form an interesting duo, one of them a cold-headed woman, the other as strong-headed as the other one is cold. The Sinner is one of the earlier novels in the series. Each book stands alone and you don’t have to know the personal lives of the main characters to enjoy the fast-paced, sometimes gruesome crime stories that have made Gerritsen famous. In the Sinner, two nuns are brutally murdered – when it turns up that one of them recently gave birth, things turn ugly. Good plot, arresting characters, good pace. What I found interesting in reading The Sinner after having read many of Gerritsen later instalments is the difference in the author’s writing and in how she treats her subject. The first thing I quickly noticed is that her writing wasn’t then quite as slick as it is now. Not the style or choice of words (Gerritsen is good at triggering images in your mind) but the way she described her characters’ personal lives was a little heavy-handed in this novel. Instead of underpinning the story, I found it was sometimes in your face – we were either in the story or in the character’s personal dilemmas, not in both at the same time. To me, her recent novels show better skills in mixing the plot with the characters’ lives. She’s also more subtle, and it works well. Don’t get me wrong, Gerritsen’s early Isles and Rizzoli’s books are excellent, always exhibiting an arresting plot and fast pace. I have another one of hers to read in my pile and I look forward to reading it.

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“Leo Spencer的翅膀” (The Wings of leo Spencer) – Jerome Parisse的第一部小说…

Leo Spencer的翅膀



十四岁的Leo找到了他妈妈的生日最令人惊讶的存在。不幸的是,有人已经决定,他不会活着看到它… …当他死了,Leo发现自己面临着一个可怕的选择,一个会影响他的生活 - 他的死亡 - 永远。

但是,谁想要他死了吗?为什么他是有针对性的邪恶力量?即使Geraldine -死,爱它 - 没有以发生了什么线索。




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“身体交换” (BODY SWAP)

我的最新年轻成人小说出版了。这就是”身体交换” (BODY SWAP)。它作为电子书和平装书格式。



William 是十三岁,最近转移到与他的父母叫Fulton一个小镇。他的姐姐Estelle一年前死于意外,他的母亲深深的悲痛中。在他的新故乡,William会见Pat,一个男孩谁爱大词和公司需要。忽然,William收到来自名为Stephanie寻求帮助一个未知的发送者的手机短信。两个男孩起初一惊,然后半信半疑,当在短信小雨Stephanie告诉他们她在附近医院昏迷。她说,她是在她的身体漂浮,需要他们的帮助进入回来。






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Pig Island, by Mo Hayder

Mo Hayder at her worst! I’ve read several of her novels now. Some are really good, others really bad. Pig Island belongs to the latter category. What a disappointment! I won’t even attempt to write a synopsis of the story, there is not enough to tell. But I will try to say why I didn’t like it. Here we go: 1) The start of the book is really promising, but then it turns into nothing. In fact, very little happens in the whole book. 2) Gratuitous gore is not good writing. In the novel, thirty people get blown up by a maniac. Hayder could have used this to show her writing skills; instead, she wastes precious space in repetitive descriptions of body parts. 3) There is a twist at the end, but I saw it coming from the beginning of the book, and trust me, I’m not good at predicting twists. 4) The main character is boring, unrealistic in his obsessions, and – that’s an understatement – impossible to like or care for. I could go on, but I’ll stop here. Enough said. I’ll give Hayder’s novels a rest for a while.

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My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult

I normally don’t read Jodi Picoult’s novels, as all they seem to be doing is dissect a dysfunctional family or individual, ad nauseam. I should add that she does it quite well, though, and has millions of fans. I was keen on reading My Sister’s Keeper, because it tackles a difficult topic, one that I am interested in, having worked for a few years for a rare disease patient organisation. My Sister’s Keeper tells the story of Anna, a thirteen year old who was conceived artificially by her parents to be used as a genetically compatible donor for her sister Kate, who suffers from a rare form of leukemia. This is tricky. There are moral issues here, on top of the medical and psychological ones. But Anna has had enough. She has undergone multiple surgeries for her sister and she decides to take her parents to court to obtain medical emancipation – and to refuse to donate a kidney to her sister, the latest invasive surgery she is asked to undergo. This makes for a very interesting and controversial topic and I commend Picoult for choosing it. Unfortunately… there are too many flaws in the book. First, from a literary point of view, characterisation is too flimsy: I found that all the characters speak with the same voice. There are even similar speech patterns used by different characters. This does not work. It’s even made worse by the fact that the story is told from many points of view – six at least – and I found myself confused more than once as to who was speaking. I had to go back to the chapter’s title to know whose point of view it was. It also makes for too many unnecessary flashbacks. But the worst sin for me was Anna’s voice, which is anything but a thirteen year old’s. Okay, she is a mature child, but still, she speaks as if she has been studying philosophy for fifty years. She is able to analyse what people say, think and do, and she comes up with smart, complex, literary statements that do not ring true. There are also too many one-liners followed by space, such as at the end of a paragraph or chapter. This works for a while, but you quickly become annoyed with it. As for the plot, it lets the reader down towards the end. We spend 400 pages analysing difficult issues and asking hard questions, trying to find an answer, when nothing is black or white, right or wrong. Instead of having the guts to choose one, Picoult takes the easy way out – and the reader is left with no answer, no choice, absolutely nothing… It’s an easy device,and it didn’t need to be like that. I don’t want to spoil the story for you so I will not say what it is about, but it is a shame that Picoult wasn’t brave enough to just go with one choice or two – however imperfect - instead of fleeing the issue. Subplots are also miraculously solved and secondary characters are taken care of in the most improbable way… and as a consequence the novel loses its credibility at the very end. Such a shame…

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Derek Clendening: The Between Years

Hi Derek, could you please describe yourself in five words?

Dork who writes every day.

What can you tell us about The Between Years?

The book focuses on Randy Fuller who has separated from his wife because the grief of losing their 6 month old baby boy Kenny is too great. Basically, Randy wants to have another child right away and Carol isn’t ready. Therefore Randy moves into his ancestral home, a Victorian house along the Niagara River. While there, he sees the ghost of his son at age four one night, then age eight, twelve and eighteen on the succeeding nights. He realizes that Kenny is growing up rapidly in the walls, which forces Randy to face realities of parenthood that he had never considered.

It’s an emotionally charged book that has no good guys or bad guys. The characters are people who are presented in all their frailty and imperfections. I leave it to the reader’s best judgment as to who is right and wrong in this book.

Who’s your favourite author?

I have several: Stephen King, Rio Youers, John Langan and Richard B Wright.

Do you have tips for budding writers?

Sure. My advice is to write (and read) every day. Writers get asked that all the time and they will always give some variation of that answer, but it’s the truth. Here’s why: writers need discipline and they must hone their skills. You can’t take shortcuts. Also, novels—or projects of any length, really—cannot be finished if they’re not being paid proper attention. A writer must strap themselves into their chair and write constantly. We all lead busy lives but serious writers will always find a way to write every day.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m finishing a zombie novel, tentatively titled The Breeding. I’m also outlining a sequel to The Vampire Way, my young adult novel.

Where can we find you online?

Why right here, my good man:

Thanks, Derek!

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Two Rules for Creative Writing, by Michael R. Collings

Michael R. Collings is a Professor Emeritus of English from Pepperdine University. Since retiring a few years ago, he has republished all of his earlier books, plus seven novels, volumes of poetry (mainstream, science fiction, fantasy, and horror), and literary studies of writers from Milton to Clive Barker. In total, he has about 35 books currently in print with three publishers. In this great article written specially for, he tells us about his process for writing The Slab, and shares with us two rules for creative writing. Read on, it’s fun and interesting!

Rule 1: Write about what you know. A frequently quoted if rather basic rule almost every writer will encounter. And usually it works fairly well.

But what about those of us who write horror? There are few who claim to be on a first-name basis with the werewolf, or the vampire, or the zombie, or the ghost that figures so prominently in the story we want to tell. And those who do make the claim…well, perhaps the less said about them the better.

When I sat down to begin work on what would ultimately become The Slab, some twenty-odd years ago, I followed Rule #1 as closely as possible. I chose a subject I knew well—the house we had bought around 1980 (and lived in, however unhappily, for the next quarter century). We had not been the proud owners of our first home for more than six months when we began making discoveries.

First, the people who sold us the house had assiduously gone through it from top to bottom, spackling and repainting and touching up the ceilings to hide the fact that there were serious cracks in every room in the house. The back wall of the master bedroom dropped nearly two inches as the summer wore on and the soil dried out, until we could literally—and I mean literally—see daylight between the wall and the ceiling.

Then, when I had to peel the living room carpet away from the sliding patio doors for some reason, we discovered that there was a crack between the slab and the wall that extended from the corner of the kitchen through the living room and on through two bedrooms to the far rear corner. It was wide enough that I could put my hand in it, and deep enough that I could feel the damp dirt underneath the foundations. And it provided a handy highway-getaway for roaches and other vermin…including a rat that used it as a runway for a long while, until we were able to build concrete blocks between each room and finally capture the critter.

Then we found out the cause of all of our woes: the contractor who build the development some twenty years earlier had been a thief and a crook. He had the nasty habit of laying down rebar for foundation slabs, getting it approved by the city inspector…then pulling it up, pouring the concrete without any, and laying it in the next house, thereby saving a ton of money. He also skimped on the wiring, we found out many years later—there was no single piece of wiring anywhere in the house that was longer than three feet, and the scraps he had joined with plastic caps were of whatever gauge and material he happened to have handy. When he was found out shortly after the development was finished, he hanged himself. And by the time we bought the death-tr…the house, all of the insurance companies had ceased to honor any claims.

So we were stuck with it.

That might not have been so bad, except that a few years after we moved in, I developed severe tinnitus in both ears, along with incremental deafness, and—since I knew little or nothing about tinnitus at that time—I figured that I was merely going crazy. The sounds—hiss, crack, boom, ring-ring-ring, scrape—kept me awake day and night…and everywhere I looked there were cracks in the walls! When I went to someone to see if they could help me handle the constant ringing, I was sent to a psychiatrist…who diagnosed clinical depression. And everywhere I looked there were cracks in the walls!

And I won’t even mention the four years that the roof leaked despite efforts to patch and re-finish. We finally had to rip the entire roof off—discovering to no surprise that the plywood used was only ¼” thick instead of the requisite ¾” for our area—before the water stopped.

Now, when I was awake all night, all I could see were the cracks in the walls and all I could hear was the sound of water running running running.

So there I sat: clinically depressed, half-deaf but with extreme hypersensitivity to low, bass sounds, constantly distracted by internal sounds, living in a house that seemed about to fall apart at any moment (and knowing that I could never sell it because, after all, who would want to buy a place as badly constructed as that one was), struggling to keep up with my teaching assignments when I could no longer hear my students or concentrate enough to read and grade their papers.

And there was Rule #1: Write about what you know.

I wrote the novel in segments, out of chronological or narrative order. The first episode was the one with the roaches in the living room and kitchen. I think I wrote it the next day.

But then I was faced with a dilemma.

If this was going to be a  horror novel—and I knew it was—I would need more than just a few cockroaches.

That was when I remembered the next rule.

Rule #2: Put your character into true jeopardy and then, when it looks like he (or she) is about to escape…Make your character’s life a living hell!

That was also when writing The Slab became part-therapy, part-escapism, part-revenge.

We had found a handful of cockroaches in the living room…what if there were hundreds! Our roof leaked in drips and spurts into one of the bedrooms…what if the whole back yard flooded! Our house was badly constructed and—even though it had already stood for two decades and would probably stand for two or three more—looked like it was about to fall apart…what if the house itself were evil!

I didn’t finish the manuscript of the novel. Things became too difficult physically and mentally as my hearing deteriorated until I needed hearing aids in both ears. Then I developed cataracts in both eyes twenty years earlier than my doctor would have expected. And the depression deepened. And life at school became less and less bearable as I had to resign from committees that before I had enjoyed, endure hours-long faculty meetings without understanding anything anyone said, and refuse to even answer my telephone because I could not interpret what I might hear.

Finally, about five years ago, things reached a crisis point. I had a long discussion with the Dean of my college, and we decided to part company amicably. In fact, he went out of his way to make my retirement easy and the transition smooth. For which I am eternally grateful.

A couple of years after my wife and I moved to Idaho, I pulled out the ms. of The Slab—about 30,000 words.

And I remembered those two rules:

#1: Write about what you know; and

#2: When things start looking up, make your character’s life a living Hell.

Enough time had passed for me to be objective about the house. Mur daughter and son-in-law had purchased it, knowing full well what it was like (she had, after all, spent most of her life living there), raised it three feet, tore out the old foundations, and replaced it with a new slab…one with rebar. On top of it, they reconstructed the house, making it into a showplace.

My hearing and tinnitus were still problems, but the depression was under control. So in I jumped.

It was almost a pleasure destroying the contractor who build the house in my novel…almost. And giving the people who disguised all of the problems just to make a quick sale a truly terrible  time. And what to us had been minor irritations (I know realize) became to my characters life-threatening and sanity-threatening moments of true horror.

The Slab is doing fairly well. For a while last week, it broke into the top 1% of sales at the Kindle store, so apparently what I have to say about the potential horrors of homeownership has resonated with a few readers. And I know that the act of turning 30,000 words of disjointed episodes into a 90,000-word novel probably did me more good than all of the therapy combined.

So…my advice to anyone wanting to become a horror novelist?

Remember two rules:

#1: Write about what you know, and

#2: When things start looking up, make your character’s life a living Hell.

Oh, and one more rule I almost forgot….

#3: Have fun while you do it!

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Casey Calouette: “The Little Black Gas Book”

Hello Casey, could you please describe yourself in five words?

Fragmented engineer with a cause.

What can you tell us about The Little Black Gas Book”?

Back in 2008 during the height of the financial crisis I was working on ways that I could try to save a few bucks on gas, which was becoming increasingly expensive. What I found online was a wealth of knowledge, though fragmented, so I began to compile it and review it with an engineers eye and found a good deal of it to be nonsense, junk, lies, and outright fraud.

As my list grew I thought other people could get some use, and hopefully enjoyment out of it. It began as something to point out what worked to save you money on gas but turned into a bit of economic theory on the pricing of gas, what does work and to what extent and my favorite chapter on what doesn’t work. It was really entertaining to see the junk science that some people tried to sell others with no regard for the science.

The key idea at the center of the book is to know how much gas you are using. If you become aware of your usage you will reduce it. A medical study was done on weight loss and proved that if you tracked your caloric intake you ate less food, so why couldn’t that hold true for fuel usage? I tested it myself and was quite stunned at how much gas I used, and I thought I was careful!

Later in the book I got into the alternative fuels and where they stand today along with potential fuels for the future. There is some really exciting technologies at work right now and it’s going to be interesting to see which technologies end up lasting and which go away. 

Who’s your favourite author?

Matt Taibbi has been getting a lot of my reading time lately. He tells it like it us and isn’t afraid to pull any punches. For someone who covers Political stories he is refreshingly honest, not taking a side but pointing out stupidity, fraud, and lies. It’s nice to get someone to tell it to you straight these days.

Do you have tips for budding writers?

Write, read and know your subject. If you don’t write none of the other points matter. If you don’t read you won’t learn from others. There are tricks in prose and style that you become aware of once you start writing that you don’t notice as a reader. Knowing your subject guarantees you won’t sound like a fraud. Try to BS your way through a story and the reader will know.

Also know your style, if you sound too strange you become an oddity but if you sound like everyone else you become a commodity. Striking that balance is what makes for a fresh, unique story. 

What are you working on now?

A collection of outdoor short stories based on fly fishing, kayaking and the outdoors. After technology my love is for the outdoors so I’ve decided to spend some time writing fiction in that genre. I also found that nonfiction doesn’t generate the buzz or readability that fiction does so I’m going to step out of my Engineer writing shoes and putting my fishing waders on for some inspiration. 

Where can we find you online?

My primary haunt is at 

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Paul M. Schofield: “Trophy”

Hello Paul, could you please describe yourself in five words?

“Born with rich inner imagination”

What can you tell us about “Trophy”?

“Trophy” is about struggle, not only on an individual level, but on an epic scale involving the very existence of the human race. Our hero is Lieutenant Janet Rogerton, orphaned at an early age, and raised by the Planetary Control Corps, the military arm of the New Victorian Empire. The Empire began in the late 21st century after the collapse of civilization as we know it, and is managed by the massive computer system, known as CENTRAL, and overseen by ten ruling women, the Guardians. For nearly five hundred years the Empire has successfully governed the Earth and Solar System, but mankind is now on the brink of extinction, a consequence of the collapse centuries earlier.

The Empire is convinced that time-travel is the only means of salvation. Lt. Janet Rogerton is part of an intense effort to capture Louis Franelli, a brilliant ex-Empire engineer, now in the employ of deadly rebel Galen Bestmarke. Franelli alone has unraveled the complex secret of time travel through the mysterious Keyhole, an anomaly in space located in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune. Bestmarke is trying to use the Keyhole to develop his heinous plan of a slave trade through time, and has captured and turned both animals and men into living trophies during his test journeys through the Keyhole. Now the Empire is hot on his trail. During a daring surprise attack on Bestmarke’s ship as it exits the Keyhole, Lt. Rogerton successfully rescues two of the trophies and captures Franelli. In a series of rapidly moving plot twists, Franelli and a Guardian are abducted by Bestmarke; the two rescued trophies, the 20th century man Martin and a magnificent black panther, are revitalized by the Guardians with cybernetic bodies forming a formidable mind-linked team; and the sinister businessman Izax enters the story with dreadful consequences for CENTRAL and Martin. The Empire unveils a superior new ship, the Clipper, which Lt. Rogerton and her dynamic team use to boldly chase after Bestmarke in a desperate attempt to rescue the Guardian and Franelli, on whom all hopes for mankind’s continued existence depend.

What happens to cause the collapse of civilization in the 21st century? How and why are women ruling the New Victorian Empire? What position do men play in the Empire? How is Martin captured by Bestmarke and how does he escape? Why is Lieutenant Janet Rogerton uniquely important to mankind’s survival? Is Louis Franelli ultimately successful in preventing mankind’s extinction? Find out in “Trophy” and following sequels.

Who’s your favorite author?

That’s a tough question … but I’ll nail it down to two, with different reasons for each. J.R.R. Tolkien and Jane Austen. Tolkien is a master of description in the milieu style of story where he has created a complete world. The characters are important but not developed to the degree they are in character stories. The world around the characters is the focal point and Tolkien is superb in his descriptions of everything animate and inanimate. Jane Austen, on the other hand, is unsurpassed in dialogue and character development. To read her dialogue, with all its subtlety and nuance in works like Pride and Prejudice, is breath-taking … to me it doesn’t get any better.

Do you have tips for budding writers?

First of all, you have to love to write. Period. The odds are against you that you will ever make much money, so if you’re writing to make money, don’t write novels. If you love to write, then keep at it. Employ professionals to edit your work. All writers fall in love with their own creations and need their dreams shaken up a bit by cold reality. A good editor with be truthful with you and tell you if it’s good or if it stinks. They will also tell you what can be done to improve it. You will need humility and you must be able to take criticism. If you can’t handle that and rejection, you’re in the wrong business. Be prepared to rewrite over and over. Good writing is a craft that is slowly learned and developed if you keep at it. If you love to write, and I haven’t scared you away, then go for it. You will be successful.

What are you working on now?

The first sequel to “Trophy”. It’s called “Trophy: Rescue”, and it starts where the first book ends. My goal is to have two sequels and two prequels in the Trophy Saga, five books total. It’s a lot of work … but it’s a lot of fun.

Where can we find you on-line?

Please go to my web site:

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