Near Birmingham UK Sat April 12 – drop in and browse great books

Drop in and have a chat with me – be pleased to

see you on TJB BOOKS stand at the 

Birmingham Independent Book Fair (FREE)

at The Ikon Gallery, 1 Oozells Square, Brindley Place, Birmingham

April 12 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pm


Browse, buy and discover new books, many of which are not available on the high street.

This day-long event will feature independent publishers from the West Midlands and beyond, offering you the chance to buy books directly from the publishers, who will be on hand to answer questions and introduce you to new writing. From poetry pamphlets to prose fiction, graphic novels to science fiction and fantasy, a wide range of forms and genres will be represented.

There will also be a programme of events running throughout the day.

The publishers involved are:

Twin Books 


Flarestack Poets 

William Gallagher 

Boo Books 

Pigeon Park Press 

Cinnamon Press 

Silhouette Press 

Cannon Poets 

Shadow Publishing 


Offa’s Press 

Black Pear Press 

The Alchemy Press 

Ellie Stevenson 

Nine Arches Press 

Gingernut Books 

Crowded Quarantine 

Foxwell Press 

Fair Acre Press 

Five Seasons Press 

The Birmingham Independent Book Fair is a project of the West Midlands Independent Publishers’ Network which is convened by Writing West Midlands.

The event is organised in collaboration with Ik0n.

Free event, drop in


Did you know?

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and spiritual leader of India. Location unknown. Français : Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), Guide politique et spirituel de l’Inde. Lieu inconnu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




(Nov 2013)

Even atheists will enjoy this great read!

Did you know?

  • That Hitler’s concept of a ‘pure Aryan Race’ was fatally flawed and based on inexact, prejudiced research.
  • That the Hindu caste system was abolished in 1949
  • You can join Hinduism even of you want to retain your atheism. (“All paths lead to God”).
  • There is no such thing as “Sin” or “Hell”.
  • And “much, much, much” more…

These fascinating insights, and a host of others, are contained in this excellent and accessible book about the beliefs, history, social and geographical origins and evolution of Hinduism. (I hesitate to call it a book about the Hindu “religion”, because Hinduism (and its “cousins” Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism are as much “philosophies” as “religions”).

The book’s title reflects the polytheistic belief systems in Hindu tradition, and yet can still accommodate monotheism –even atheism! Pragmatic and ever-evolving; Science and the Big Bang Theory are even accommodated in this all-embracing belief system. The sophisticated, elusive principle at the heart of Hinduism is “cosmic consciousness”. Is this eclecticism all too good to be true? Well, there are sub-divisions and traditionalists who reject ‘modernist’ tenets. Even Mahatma Gandhi was once refused permission to enter the great Hindu temple at Guruvayoor because he was accompanied by lower caste followers. An ancient temple in Kerala still has at the entrance, a sign that reads: “Non-Hindus not allowed”.

The book is written as a series of essays covering the Culture, Concepts and Controversies in Hinduism, and explores and explains complex ideas in simple, often conversational prose. Sprinkled with human stories, parables and personal views (and occasional “peeves”), the writing is always engaging and at times delightfully controversial. There were moments when I wanted to leap up and pump the air with a balled fist and shout “yes, yes, yes”; at other times shake my head and mutter “No, no, no”. This book is more than a primer; it would make an excellent debating resource and is an invitation to further reading and learning. You will get behind the myths and misunderstandings that prevail about reincarnation, many gods yet one god, yoga, etc.

The essay on ‘The Milk Miracle’ of 1995 strikes a balance between blind faith and scientific explanation, leavened with humour. In fact, a gentle irony runs through many of the essays.

‘Contrast and Compare’ type discussions are used to open up – and explain – differences and similarities with other mass religions like Islam, Christianity, Judaism.

Boxed quotes from historical and contemporary figures enrich and reflect the text e.g. after the essay on “The Search for Aryans”, Margaret Attwood is quoted: “I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one race – the human race – and that we are all members of it.”

Amen to that, I say.

In conclusion, I think the author, Swami Achutahnandu, takes the reader on a journey of understanding that embraces Hindu history, belief systems, nature, and geographical -even social – mobility. He does this like a friendly guide; sincere, knowledgeable and serious. Although he can get tetchy now and then (especially so in the case of academics obsessed with Freudian psychoanalysis) – you always feel there is a twinkle in his eyes and a sense of shared humanity. A first class read!


About the author

500 years ago this day – English massacre of ‘Flower of Scotland’


A commissioned short play inspired by the 1874 painting by the Scots painter John Faed, displayed in the Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Victorian Rooms. This was one of six plays commissioned through New City Playwrights based on displayed artwork and objects and performed in the Art Gallery space and in local schools over a two-week run.

(Directed by Ali Belbin, actors Greg Hobbs, Dan Hagley,  Hema Mangoo)

Today, September 9 is the 500th anniversary of a bloody battle in 1513 that changed the course of UK history. Some argue that a different outcome and the Act of Union between England and Scotland might never have happened.

I was drawn to write a short play based on the Battle of Flodden as part of a commission to celebrate the refurbishment of Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Victorian Collection.  As a dramatist/novelist – I wanted to give the play strong human conflict hence the emphasis on the quarrel between King James of Scotland and King Henry VIII of England over Margaret and  ‘Sir Andrew’. Quarrels within families (including Royals) can lead to the most dire consequences – even the fall of a nation and the course of history changed. As some historians have commented would the Act of Union between England and Scotland have happened without Flodden? Or if a different outcome, which country might have been the senior/junior partner?

To give the story some contemporary resonances I ‘mirrored’ or ‘paralleled’ the story of the rivalry between two kings with rival Scotland and England football fans and their respective ‘military’ leaders. ‘Gaz’ and ‘Big Jock’. In The Battle of Flodden King Henry didn’t turn up – he was already fighting in France! In the Caledonian pub car park fight it’s ‘King’ Big Jock who doesn’t turn up!

I was intrigued by the legend of a ‘ghost’ issuing a warning (in Faed’s painting and very Victorian) not to go to war that went unheeded. And so I used St John’s materialization again in the modern setting.

As they say, ‘Never let the truth (or history for that matter) get in the way of a good story’

To read play or for FREE download click this link.

A whole new world – or childhood world revisited? Have a look.

 UK Games Expo   Fri. 24th , Sat. 25th ,  Sun. 26th  May 2013, Birmingham

Board of the game called "The Chinamen's ...
Board of the game called “The Chinamen’s game” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m about to enter a whole new world – non electronic multi format hobby games. What’s that all about, you ask?

Board games, card games, their creation, design, publication and competitive play. I stress this exhibition is about non-electronic games – the kind most post thirty plus year olds grew up with.  For example as a young boy I played snakes and ladders, ludo, card games, lexicon, pictogram, etc, then graduated to Monopoly, Cluedo, Scrabble, and so on. At Christmas time we tried our hands at new games that appeared on the market and were given as presents. Among family and friends, we played competitively then faded as the levels of concentration and competence among the adults declined in direct proportion to the quantity of wine consumed!

But how to come up with an idea for a new board game, develop and test it, publish, produce it?  And what about role playing? I know nothing about this stuff – so what am I doing there?

Well – hey! Anything new, different nudges my curiosity but I’m there because along with a bunch of other writers from UK-based New Writers group, we’ve got a slot at UK GAMES EXPO 2013 talking about e-books, independent publishing and whatever else people might want to chat about. We have a display stand so we’ll take a few of our published books along – the print versions.  (Print books on a table or stand are a lot more eye catching than an open e-reader with a postage stamp book cover on view!). Our session is at 1.30 PM on Sat. 25th May titled as below (I wish!):

“A Kindle Millionaire – Self Publishing for Authors. So you have written a book, what now? How do you go about self publishing and making e-books and how do you get them onto Amazon? Authors Andy Holmes, Tom Bryson, Dave Ebsworth and Fiona Linday will discuss the various approaches and the pitfalls.”

So…we’ll see what happens at UK GAMES EXPO 2013 and I’ll let you know.

UK Games Expo 2012
UK Games Expo 2012 (Photo credit: tim ellis)

As a matter of interest in the USA I understand Origins or Gencon Indy are worth a visit. Anyone been to board games conventions held in the US? Or are computer games finishing off traditional board games? What about the personal social interaction differences between board/card games and e-/computer games? Is the former more family friendly or just olde worlde?

Here’s a link to the website giving full details of the event. Visit the website and have a look at what’s happening. If possible COME ALONG AND JOIN US and we can share what we see, have a ‘go’ at some games.  UK Games Expo

Of course, for anyone who’s already into creating, publishing and playing board games then this will be a great opportunity to see what’s trending, get a handle on the latest developments, maybe become inspired or simply inspire!

Here’s another link to an interesting article by Richard Denning who runs UK Games Expo‘How to get a board game published’

What do you think?

Why here, or there or that other place? Does setting affect readers’ preferences?

London (Photo credit: @Doug88888)


Does the setting for your story affect a book’s sales? Are readers influenced to read a book – or not to read it – by the location in which your crime story is set?

Victoria Square, in central Birmingham
Victoria Square, in central Birmingham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been tussling with the issue of where to set my protagonist’s world after getting feedback from some readers. For example it would be interesting to know from US writers/readers if people are more minded to read a crime novel set in NY or LA than say Chicago or Boston – or is there any city/town that is a turn-off.
UK crime writers often set their stories in London where the cop is from the Met although there are notable exceptions like Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh, Peter James’ Brighton, etc. My first crime novel is set in Birmingham, England – a great city that often gets a ‘bad press’. My next book – a thriller – I set the opening in London but then mainly Kiev. My next crime sequel is also set in ‘Brum’ (Birmingham).
Does this matter? And what about Australia – is Sydney ‘more readable’ than say ‘Melbourne’? And Scandinavia has become popular. Or is the quality of a story and the writing all that really matters? I once heard said that some US readers won’t open a book set outside their own country!
I suppose I could always move my cop to London or even New York – well, create a new cop. After all, a murder in England may be a homicide in the US – but cops, villains and victims are universal – well, aren’t they? Or is ‘place’ a significant ‘character’ in its own right; enough to make a reader ask: ‘Do I want to read a story set in this place?’ What do you think?