Friday 30 April 2010

Retro Cool - M.A.C.H 1

The acronym stands for Man Activated by Computer Hyperpuncture - the strip ran in boy's comic 2000AD and ran for 64 issues. The strip was created by Pat Mills and was initially the most popular strip in the comic - bigger even than Judge Dredd during the early years of the comic.

The strip was heavily influenced by TV's The Six Million Dollar man which was huge at the time - the character of M.A.C.H 1, agent John Probe even looked like Steve Austin as played by Lee Majors. In the introduction to the Extreme M.A.C.H 1 magazine, editor Alan Barnes said John Probe was not so much Steve Austin as an Austin Allegro and he confirms that during the comic's early days the character was more popular than Dan Dare and Judge Dredd combined.

The earliest strips saw John Probe battling terrorists, enemy agents and killers but as 2000ad found its legs and became more subversive, Probe found himself battling against his own government. Probe's boss Sharpe was revealed to have insisted a piece of code be written into the computer inside Probe that would self destruct, killing the agent if he disobeyed orders. This added much depth to the character and made Probe less Steve Austin and more a tortured man forced to work for a shadowy government organisation.

The first truly epic story for the character was M.A.C.H 0 in which Probe discovered that he wasn't the first man to be turned into a secret agent (again a plot that had been used in The Six Million Dollar Man) but this earlier experiment had gone wrong. Of course Probe saved the day. In the final strips of M.A.C.H 1 we saw John Probe turn on his boss and kill him . He then sacrificed his own life to save the world from alien invasion. This was a massive shock to the readership. This was not Marvel of DC and when a character was killed he usually remained dead.

M.A.C.H Zero would return to the comic for his own short lived series, but this was more Frankenstein retold than anything else.

Stories from M.A.C.H 1 have been reprinted in several versions - Reprinted? 2000 AD Extreme Edition #6 (12/04) reprinted 9 of the first 10 episodes (all but #3), along with "Airship," "The Planet Killers," "Everest" and "MACH Woman." 19 episodes in one handy package, with a great cover by John Burns. A second batch of 20 episodes were reprinted in Extreme Edition #9 (6/05). These included "UFO" and the final 16 instalments. Many other episodes had previously been collected by Quality Comics in a series that ran nine issues.

The character was so fondly remembered that a spoof, entitled B.L.A.I.R. 1, a satire on Tony Blair appeared in 2000 AD in the late 1990s, and gained considerable media attention at the time. The story was not popular with readers, however, and was soon killed off.


Hot from the set of the Coen's remake of True Grit come these sneaky pictures - nod to John Sinclair for bringing these to my attention.

There are more pictures on Ain't it Cool News


If anyone was expecting a serious western then they clearly need to read the source material - the trailer certainly looks enticing.

Thursday 29 April 2010

The Return of Mike Hammer

The Archive spoke to author MAX ALLAN COLLINS back in Jan 2009 - these days he's a best selling author but like many of us he started off as a voracious reader and fan of the pulp style fiction. Max's big thing was Mickey Spillane and he had the good fortune to meet Spillane and then become life long friends with him.

During his latter years Spillane realised that he had work unfinished that would never be completed in his lifetime, and so he entrusted these works with Max Allan Collins.

Last year we had the excellent Goliath Bone which was the book Spillane was working on when he passed on - the manuscript was completed by Collins.

And available now is The Big Bang - Drawing on an unpublished partial Spillane manuscript dating from the '60s, Collins resurrects Spillane's two-fisted New York City PI, Mike Hammer. When Hammer intervenes to save a bike messenger from a mugging, two of the assailants wind up dead and a third in critical condition at Bellevue. After following up with the victim, the detective suspects the motive for the attack is more complicated than the police believe. The trail leads him to a recent player in the city's narcotics trade nicknamed the Snowbird. Along the way, Hammer becomes a target, possibly of a local mob boss, and falls into bed with one of the many attractive women he meets.

Wednesday 28 April 2010


I've not done one of these blog round-up pieces for some time but I'm always discovering new blogs, the good, the great and the bad so I thought now would be a good time to highlight some of my new favourites out there on the blogosphere. Carina Press is a new electronic first publisher from those heavyweights at Harlequin and their blog is well worth checking out to see what they are up to and there are often some pretty detailed articles on the new digital market. For fans of crime and mystery fiction I direct them to the Crime Fiction Dossier - sat over by David Montgomery, a professional critic it contains interviews and reviews. Another great crime blog is Poe's Deadly Daughters which offers a female perspective on the genre. The articles are always well detailed and clearly written. Sticking with crime we have Eurocrime which is a particular favourite of mine and keeps one informed on all thing European and mystery related.

A new western related blog is The Great Westerns -

This is a totally new blog to me and already I'm hooked. There have been some great vintage western photographs posted and the articles following the pictures are always top knotch. Dark Bits, run by author Howard Hopkins does not deal exclusively in westerns but every Wednesday is Western Wednesday and the blog is worth reading every day. The Outlaw Trail, what a cool sounding blog, is run by fellow Black Horse writer, Chuck Tyrell is one of the better new western blogs out there with plenty of info on the author's own book as well as tons of great western history.

Bookslut is always worth reading for literary opinion - the blog has a nice layout and the way articles are categorised by genre is very useful.

Holy live audience!!!!!

Batman, that Dark Knight is set to take to the stage after Warners have sanctioned a live musical based on the character -

Batfans have long been awaiting official confirmation of a third Batman movie from Christopher Nolan, director of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. No announcement on that yet, but this week Warner Bros (which owns the character and his DC Comics superfriends) apparently confirmed a new outing for the caped crusader: not a dark blockbuster movie, but a family-friendly stage show.

According to heatvisionblog, which is written by the Hollywood Reporter's Borys Kit, Batman Live will be "an elaborate arena production aimed at kids and families" with a villain-heavy script by Alan Burnett, a veteran of Warner's successful superhero animation stable. The project is reportedly being developed under the auspices of Warner Bros consumer products department, with licensing deals lined up for companies involved in the touring shows of Walking With Dinosaurs and Mamma Mia!. No opening date has been announced.

With such emphasis on merchandising in this early report, it's hard not to detect a whiff of corporate exploitation of a valuable franchise – but, hey, that's what entertainment conglomerates do, and it needn't mean the results won't be enjoyable. One of the defining characteristics of comic-book superheroes is that their iconic simplicity – a two-or-three-colour costume, a strong, simple backstory, a couple of basic characteristics – can be adapted across a wide variety of genres. There's no reason Batman shouldn't be simultaneously mean and moody on the big screen and square-jawed cartoonish fun on stage. FULL STORY

Political prats

The UK election is turning into great entertainment - this from our beloved PM, Norman Brown, sorry er - Gordon Brown

Jonah Hex revitalised

I must point out that the negative reviews for the movie, Jonah Hex are based on test screenings of the movie without many of the special effects, both sound and video. The preview trailer certainly looks interesting.


I am pleased to announce that my d├ębut western, The Tarnished Star, which was the fastest selling title in the history of the Black Horse Western imprint, will be coming out in a large print edition from F. A. Thorpe. They've bought world large print rights so the books will be aimed at the library market.

The company publishes the Linford Western Library - We offer wide variety of large print titles in hard and soft cover formats as well as abridged and unabridged audio books. Many titles are written by the world's favourite authors and Ulverscroft is considered the leading world-wide publisher of large print and unabridged audio books.

Tuesday 27 April 2010


I've just stumbled across a great new blog dedicated to westerns - check out GREAT WESTERNS

Jonah Hex

That website run by the wookie lookalike, Ain't it cool News have slated the Jonah Hex movie. Check out the mostly negative test screening reviews HERE

eBooks will make the industry BIGGER, says bestselling writer

Best selling author David Baldacci is taking a cue from the world of DVD's by releasing his newest title as an enhanced eBook complete with deleted scenes

Baldacci's new novel "Deliver Us from Evil" is being released as both a hard copy and in enhanced eBook form. Baldacci is giving his eBook readers access to what he calls "behind the scenes footage" from his process of writing a novel.

"You have to go where the readers are. Certainly, the younger readers are used to doing things on computers, on iPhones," said Baldacci. "I think it's actually going to make the industry bigger."

Baldacci views eBooks as an opportunity to appeal to a previously untouched demographic of readers.

"The eBooks are a way to get people who would never think about going into a store and picking up a book but love to do stuff on the computer," said Baldacci. "They can go on, read a book, enjoy it, and next time they might go to a book store and buy one off the shelf."

Other elements of Baldacci's enhanced eBook include edited manuscript pages, photos of places in the book, a discarded title and ending, and a video tour of his office. Baldacci says this is a way to reach out and answer questions of fans who might wonder about the writing process.

"We have to be a thriving and innovative industry. The movie industry does it. The music industry does it," said Baldacci. "We're content people. We create stuff too and we have to be creative about this as well."

Baldacci says eBooks don't represent the end of the hard copy, rather just another way to provide content to readers.

"I don't think we have to run away from this at all thinking, oh my, this is the end of the real book," said Baldacci.

For more on David Baldacci and his new eBook "Deliver Us from Evil" visit



Check out Seth Harwood's special offer HERE

What is it: Tyrus Books and Seth are printing a limited run of numbered, signed special edition copies of YOUNG JUNIUS for you, the die-hard Palms Family fans. This edition will have special art by Jerry Scullion and Bob Ostrom, photos of some of the book's locations, special embossed dust-jacket, cover art, all-cloth covers, and much more!

When can you pre-order this? May 5th is when the pre-ordering begins. We're looking at a run of most-likely 500 copies total. Once we sell them out, they're gone!

When will I get my books? The edition will print in September and be shipped to you in October.

Monday 26 April 2010


Historical data:
Originally published 1963
This edition Chicago University Press
cover price $14.00
As by Richard Stark AKA the late Donald Westlake

This is the third in the Parker series and although I enjoyed the previous book, The Man with the Getaway Face, this third volume is much more in the style of the debut Parker novel, The Hunter. Indeed the first three Parker books are something of a trilogy.

When we left Parker he'd had a facelift, robbed an armoured car, wasted the bird who fingered the robbery and avenged the death of his plastic surgeon. And all in the usual bizarrely humorous Parker style. This third books starts with Parker still getting trouble from the outfit - word on his new face is out and having to constantly look over his shoulder is making it difficult to operate.

Parker's fed up of running and he decides to become such a thorn in the outfit's side they they lay off him. Another relentlessly paced thriller follows with Parker coming across as brutally nasty and yet compelling as ever. Even with the author's minimalist style the book is highly coloured and the network of professional thieves Parker mobilises to hit at the Outfit are as well organised as any covert governmental department.

The Parker books are true classics - perhaps a little too brutal and morally ambiguous for the mainstream, but I have no doubt that the Parker books will one day be up there with the classics of noir. Or,as the French call them, Roman noir - the term roman noir (“black novel") was employed to describe a range of books, some that an English speaker might think of as mysteries, others as gothic melodramas.

On a personal level I'm still a newcomer to the books - I've done the first three as well as several of the later Parker books and I've enjoyed each and every one. Though Parker does seem to become a slightly mellower character in the later adventures and, although still worth reading, it is these early books that are the real deal.

The world Parker in which operates is a very real world that exists in parallel with the commonplace and Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) knows this world very well.

These are excellent books and my favourite series at the moment.

It's Star Trek but not as we know it

CBS Consumer Products is preparing an interactive stage show called “Star Trek Live” to be performed five times a day starting June 11 at the 300-seat Astronaut Encounter Theater at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near Orlando, Fla.

Based on the franchise (though the plot seems more like the new movie), the 30-minute experience combines special effects and audience interaction, letting fans play new cadets at Starfleet Academy, where they will have to learn quickly about living, traveling and working in space and about the latest in communication and technology.

Sounds like a smart way to get the word out about this obscure franchise. ;-) Actually, the NASA connection makes a lot of sense.

This wouldn’t be the first interactive “Star Trek” experience for fans. Universal Studios theme parks in the late 1980s and early 1990s offered The Star Trek Adventure, which cast audience members as Starfleet officers and Klingons as they filmed an episode, and let participants buy a tape of the final result. And The Star Trek Experience operated out of the Las Vegas Hilton from 1998 to 2008, letting fans sip drinks at Quark’s Bar from “Deep Space Nine,” travel back in time to fight the Klingons, or fight off an invasion by the Borg. Highlights from the Vegas exhibit are available on the bonus disc of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection DVD and Blu-ray.

The Nook may be the eReader to go for

The eBook world is very much still in development and yet Barnes and Noble have just taken their eBook reader, The Nook to the next level with a new free software update. Barnes & Noble NOOK e-reader is seeing one of the most impressive updates in a long time, and we have to believe that this update wouldn't be nearly as robust without Amazon's Kindle, Spring Design's Alex and Apple's iPad sitting beside it on the virtual shelves. These days, consumers have lots of choices when it comes to buying an e-book reader and/or tablet, so without a nice feature set, it's easy to overlook one and head right for another.

It's clear that B&N doesn't want their recently launched NOOK to become the one that's overlooked, and judging by the new firmware, they mean business with keeping it up to date when compared to the competition. The latest update, which is being provided for free to current and to-be NOOK owners, adds new firsts and features for the e-book category as a whole and the NOOK itself. A new Read In Store experience has been launched in Beta, bringing users the ability to browse complete books in B&N stores at no cost, as well as games. The games app is the first Android app on the device, and if that's not enough, don't sweat it.

NOOK v1.3 is now available via manual download at with additional information and easy-to-follow directions. NOOKs connected to Wi-Fi will receive an automatic NOOK v1.3 update over the next week.

Stats and stuff

I was watching Channel 4's technology show last night and when the segment called Citizen - Bytes came on I nearly choked on my lava bread. Citizen Bytes looks at various blogs, websites etc and there on the screen they were looking at The Tainted Archive, calling it a mish-mash of ideas.

So thanks guys - it's great to get noticed.

The Weekly stats:

Weekly Stats Report: 19 Apr - 25 Apr 2010

Unique Visitors1461251601651661381091,009144
First Time Visitors11510714013513911388837120
Returning Visitors3118203027252117225


May will see Clint Eastwood celebrate his 80th birthday and the Archive will be posting 80 Eastwood posts during the month as our way of saying thank you to a man who has done more than most for the western genre. We'll be reviewing every film but there'll also be articles that may tell you something new about the man with a great name.

Before that expect the usual bunch of stuff that makes the Archive an essential read.

Be here or be square.

Saturday 24 April 2010


I caught the latest episode of the BBC's Ashes to Ashes - the third series of the follow up show to the excellent Life on Mars, and I was dismayed to discover how poor the show is. Mind you I don't think Ashes was ever going to work - for one thing the time travel storyline didn't really gell in Life on Mars and we are expected to swallow the premise that it has happened again to someone else a decade later. Maybe I'm being unfair as I've long lost interest in Ashes to Ashes but I think a big mistake was made following Life on Mars - what they should have done, in my opinion, is forget the time travel element and simply made a straight forward 1970's set cop show using the character of Gene Hunt.

Life on Mars did, after all, come about because the writers wanted to make a show something like The Sweeney - the time travel element was an inspired after thought and allowed the show to explore the differences between the 1970's and this politically correct world.

Besides 1970's cop shows were mostly excellent and today they bask in retro-cool.

The UK had The Sweeney of course (probably the best cop show ever made) starring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman - all flared trousers, kipper ties, loose cigarettes and, perhaps for the first time, a realistic view of then modern policing. The stories had a moral ambiguity that makes the show still topical today. There were four series and two spin off movies and all are available in one form or another.

But for the entire decade there were scores of cops dominating TV screens - the previous decade had seen the episodic western replaced in popularity by the cop and now rather than watch our heroes ride the range, we watched then cruise around in their Ford Torinos or battered station wagons. Cops were everywhere - professionals, amateurs and seedy private detectives.

Remember Beretta - one of the most off-beat cops to patrol the streets of the small screen. The character, played by Robert Blake - it was actually based on an earlier NBC series, Toma which was based on the real life exploits of New Jersey cop David Toma. Beretta ran from 1975-1978.

Starskey and Hutch was a massive hit during the decade, huge in much of Europe as well as its native USA. There was a ninety minute pilot movie followed by 92 episodes. These days the show is primarily remembered as an action comedy but the it is forgotten how hard hitting the series was; indeed it had to be toned down after complaints. The excellent first season episode, The Fix was not originally shown on UK screens after it was deemed too violent. And even today the first two seasons are well worth viewing and provide some excellent drama. Shame, it kinda got silly for the final two seasons.

In 1977, a rising concern about violence on TV, along with Paul Glaser's own concerns about the level of violence in Starskey and Hutch, forced the screenplay writers to cut down on violent action scenes and to employ more romantic and socially themed episodes, and play up the "buddy buddy" aspect of the show's leads even more so. At the same time, the lead actors, Glaser in particular, became jaded with the general theme of Starsky and Hutch. These and other factors contributed to the fading popularity of the series. And of course David Soul wanted to become a rock star dude but we forgive him for Silver Lady and we really don't give up on him, -er, baby

Charlie's Angels - was all glamour and no real substance (plenty of bust shots, though) but it was hugely successful - Many a schoolboy considered Farrah Fawcett, the perfect woman. It ran from 1976 - 1981, went through several cast changes, and was indeed one of the most successful shows of the decade. And of course there have been the big screen versions.

Another big cop show of the decade was, The Streets of San Francisco - what set this apart from many shows was the quality of the cast. Karl Malden was already an acting legend when he took on the role of Mike Stone and Michael Douglas showed that he had inherited the performance skills of his famous father, Kirk. There were five seasons, 120 episodes in total, and the series is another that has survived well and is still enjoyed today.

There were scores of other popular cop (the term cop used generically and including amateur sleuths) shows, some good and some not so good - Kojak, Cannon, Ironside, Macmillan and Wife, Serpico, Columbo, McCloud, S.W.A.T - to name but a few of the better ones.

It would be impossible to include every show in a post such as this but one particular favourite I want to talk about is, The Rockford Files. The show ran from 1974 - 1980 and is still show in syndication all around the world. The 6ft 3inches tall James Garner played the part of Jim Rockford, a PI who owed much to Chandler's laid back Phillip Marlowe as well as Garner's earlier character, Brett Maverick. Indeed there are plans for a remake of the series with Dermont Mulroney in the part of Jim Rockford.

The Rockford Files is in a class of its own - each of the episodes in the six seasons are mostly excellent and there were several Rockford Files reunion movies made which aired between 1994-1999.

'People write asking me if my limp is part of the Rockford character, ' Garner told an interviewer for the 1979 TV detectives annual. ' I wish it were. I smashed both legs playing football in school and I've had two operations on each knee. I think the right one is held together by cottage cheese.'

With the 80's the cops shows continued but became more glitzy - Heart to Heart, Miami Vice and T.J. Hooker anyone. And the trend would continue until a little show called Hill Street Blues turned everything around and spawned modern shows such as The Wire and all those C.S.I'S.

Maybe the 1970's cop shows were not always the most realistic portrayal of life as a law enforcer and maybe they were sometimes OTT, but that don't matter. The 1970's was the decade of the cop show so what the heck is Gene Hunt and the Ashes to Ashes lot doing messing about in the 1980's?

Strung out in heaven's high, hitting an all time low, indeed!

Friday 23 April 2010


Archie comics, which publishes the adventures of the world’s oldest teenagers, will finally see the first gay character added to the mix. In a story from Veronica # 202, Veronica Lodge will be attracted to a hunky new guy named Kevin, not realizing that he’s attracted to men rather than women. The artist and writer, Dan Parent, says that the company wanted to introduce more “diverse characters” into its world, and that no big deal will be made of the story or the characters’ reactions “the characters just accept it, and that’s it.” Parent has also written a story where Archie has a romance with the company’s first black character, Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats. But none of this clears up the big issue: why are two sexy girls chasing after a boy with a waffle on the side of his head?

Live long and prosper

Leonard Nimoy has decided to retire. And this time the 79-year-old actor is serious when he says he’s done with Mr. Spock. In last year’s Star Trek movie, he played an older version of Spock while Zachary Quinto played a younger version. “I want to get off the stage. Also, I don’t think it would be fair to Zachary Quinto,” he says. “He’s a terrific actor, he looks the part, and it’s time to give him some space. And I’m very flattered the character will continue.” Nimoy went further, stating that his recently wrapped scenes in the TV show Fringe are the end. “I’ve been doing this professionally for 60 years,” he says with a laugh. “I love the idea of going out on a positive note. I’ve had a great, great time.”


For anyone who missed my radio appearance today regarding the discovery of documents relating to the OK Corral you can listen to it here.


Incredible really but only yesterday I posted something about the long lost document relating to the Gunfight at the OK Corral - this morning the telephone rang and I was asked back onto Radio Wales to discuss the find which has made the national papers in the UK.

Jack Martin seems to have become Radio Wales' resident western history expert.

Anyway I'll be on at around 3pm BST - readers outside the UK can listen to the show online at the BBC website HERE

Thursday 22 April 2010


It's enough to make any student of western history shake his hat in the air and go, "Yeehaw!"

A missing transcript from a coroner's inquest carried out after the legendary gunfight at the OK Corral has resurfaced in a dusty box more than 125 years later after the infamous Wild West shoot-out.

The handwritten document had been missing for decades and was last seen when it was photocopied in the 1960s.

It was found when court clerks stumbled on the box while reorganising files in an old jail storage room in Bisbee, south of Tombstone, the Arizona frontier town where the gun battle took place.


The idea for the third Jack Martin western (2011) evolved from me reading Battle Picture Weekly as a kid and specifically a strip called D-Day Dawson. You see Dawson took a bullet on D-Day, which is too close to the heart to be removed and will eventually kill him. And so he fights on, wanting to take as many of the enemy with him before he himself falls.

I wanted to use that premise for a western and after a chat with Dr Keith Souter AKA western writer Clay More and finding out that not only was the premise possible but it had indeed happened and was documented medically, I decided to go with it.

Now the main character in the book, Delta Rose was a drifter and a gambler and so I hooked on the title Dead Man's Hand. There is still a final revision to do on the book and the lovely people at Robert Hale LTD like the book very much. However they won't be able to use the title as it's been used before.

In the editor's own words - "The book is eminently suitable for us but I would evolve the title as it has been used in the past."

Damn and drat.

So while I complete the revisions on the book, I thought I'd throw the problem of the title out to Archive readers. Please leave your title suggestions in the comments of the blog and if I use any of them, the reader who dreamed up the title will be credited in the acknowledgements for the eventual book.


Think you know the Jack the Ripper story?

Think again!





Taking that eBook plunge

Want to see what all the fuss is about without spending big bucks for a dedicated reader which may be out of date next month? Well eBooks can be sampled on even the most basic mobile/cell phone.


Probably the easiest way to do your mobile reading is by finding sites that have free books sitting open on their online pages. Better still is when these sites have a dedicated mobile version that'll reprint the page so it's most easily read from a phone browser without you having to scroll across the page all the time.

A good place to start is the Google Books project. Those in the US can get free access to over 1.5 million fully scanned books that are available to read and in the public domain. Outside the States, the number drops to something like half a million volumes depending upon rights agreements. However you look at it, though, that's still quite a few to get through. All you need to do is open your phone's browser and navigate to

Another option is the site It's a little more on the rough and ready side, but it works, and will deliver all sorts of free titles direct to your phone's screen. You need to create an account but that's free as well, so don't worry. The site will try to recognise your mobile make and model and match page width accordingly but, if it doesn't have yours on file, then you can fine tune and manually give it the right pixel ratio. Also, if you're looking for a particular title that the site doesn't have, send them the link, if you can find it on Project Gutenberg, and they might just add it to the pages for you.

Authorama is another good place to find books in HTML. Sadly, as with a lot of HTML books, there's no actual mobile version of this site as yet. However, unlike other good free book sites such as Bibliomania and Bookrix, the design is such that it's quite user-friendly and simple enough to view on a decent sized smartphone, so well worth a visit. The same is true for the website of contemporary American author, Johnathan Lethem, where you can find a good collection of short reads that are just about easy enough to make out on a big mobile browser.

Ebook downloads

Until all the good open ebook sites of the world get themselves mobile versions, the majority of the e-literature out there is going to have to be downloaded as actual files to put on your handset. These will come in formats like EPUB, Mobipocket, PDF, eReader and HTML and plain text files you can download too.

Some of this stuff you can download directly over the air to your handset and some of it you'll need to sideload onto your computer first and then put it onto your phone, and in most cases, you'll need to have an application of sorts on your mobile to be able to read them. Naturally, this is going to be easier if you have an app-type phone (Android, iPhone, WinMob etc) but there are some good sites and software out there that will work for everyone.

JAR file sites for feature phones (Nokias, Samsungs, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, etc)

Both The Mobile Library and the Project Gutenberg offer the proprietary files called QiOO Mobile among others. Any Java-based device can read these downloads which pretty much covers all standard handsets out there to quite basic feature phone levels. Choose JAR files or JAD files to get them direct to your phone.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

A Passion for Stories - Kelly Abell Interview

Author, Kelly Abell has always been writing in one form or another. As a child she jotted down stories on whatever piece of paper came to hand, publishing her first works in her school magazine. It wasn't until the millennium that Kelly started to seriously tackle novels - she kept waking up in the middle of the night with the characters in her mind.

Like most authors she's had her share of rejections before finding success.

Kelly is especially excited about her new relationship with Solstice Publishing of which she is Editor in Chief.

We will be looking at Solstice Publishing in a coming interview with Kelly, but for now we concentrate on Kelly's own writing.

I asked her what led her to write in the first place.

Hi Gary, Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog. I like they way you asked this question. A lot of times I am asked for my resume so to speak but I've not been asked what led me to write. I think true writers can't help but write. From the time I was 6 or 7 I kept a journal or diary. In middle school I started writing short stories. Finally in high school I wrote for a school magazine that was called Sketches. I think what led me to write was a passion for stories. I've always been an avid reader and I hate to finish a good book. I wanted to give that feeling to others. I just had a fan tell me that she couldn't sleep one night for reading my book. She just couldn't put it down. That's why I write. I think that is the highest compliment that can be given to me as a writer.

So what can newcomers expect from one of Kelly's books?

Depending which book you read of mine you will get different things, but one thing they all have in common are fast moving well paced plots. I think they will also experience compelling characters that they will fall in love with. My paranormal Haunted Destiny is edgy and scary, as well as moving and dramatic. My romantic suspense book Sealed In Lies is gripping and keeps you turning pages until the end. It is Book One in a series and look for Book Two Captured In Lies coming out in June.

I wonder if Kelly's writing reflects her own reading tastes?

This is a great question. I think it does. I like to read paranormals that deal with ghosts and spirits, as well as psychics. I also love the romantic suspense genre. From the time I was a tween and started reading Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney I've loved romantic suspense. I also read a lot of thriller authors like James Patterson. I think I learn something from every author I read. I think as far as writing goes I am influenced by a lot of writers. I really like Nora Roberts and her ability to make a character seem so real, as if you've known them for years. I really want my readers to connect with my characters. I also am inspired by Dean Koontz. Even if you don't like horror you should read his books. He is just a fabulous writer. The way he paints a scene with words...a true Picasso!

Kelly's website features many tips for wannabe writers out there. I wonder what is the single most important piece of advice she would give for novice writers?

The most important piece of advice I can give someone wanting to be a writer is write because you love doing it. Don't fall into the trap of writing to a formula or writing something you think people are going to pay to read. Write because you are in love with writing. Write because the stories just won't be silent any longer in your head. My son asked me a question recently and I had to really stop and think about it. He said, "Mom, do you love your readers?" At first I didn't really know what he meant by that, but now I think I do. I write because of the joy I can give my readers. I love to hear from a reader that one of my books kept them up all night because they couldn't put it down. To me that is the ultimate compliment. So writers, write because you love your readers and you want to write. The rest takes hard work but it will come.

Kelly also has a Facebook fan page and many writers, myself included, are realising the importance of social networking. But how important does Kelly see being web savvy in terms of social networking is
to the modern writer?

I believe social networking is important. I think it is a way for readers to be connected with writers in a way that was never possible before. Building a network with my writer friends helps me keep up with industry happenings that I would have to research otherwise. I find out about promotions, radio interviews, blogs like yours, Gary, and lots of other things through my Facebook. I also can keep in touch with my international friends, like you. I also think readers like to see the updates of what a writer is working on and the updates of statuses allow us to do that.

Finally I wonder what those Desert Island books would be for Kelly?

Oh boy! This is a tough one! I think my fiction work would be Black Beauty. That is one of my very favorite books from the time I was a child and I love that story. My reference work would be a How To Survive on a Deserted Island! With a chapter called 10 creative ways to eat a coconut! And the last book would be a journal so I could write about all the things that happen on the island and turn it into a best seller once I'm rescued! LOL.

When we next talk to Kelly we will be looking at the new publishing house Solstice, of which she is heavily involved. But for now we thank Kelly for her time and urge Archive readers to try one of her books.


This exciting biopic is the story of America's most decorated soldier, Audie Murphy, with the actor playing himself. I'd seen this movie years ago and remembered that it was full of action but I knew little about Murphy's real wartime adventures. He is a true American hero and according to sources his grave is the second most visited at Arlington, the most visited being John F. Kennedy.

The film was based on the book of the same name and details Murphy's life from childhood to him coming out of the army.

Murphy's height and weight at his enlistment were 5 feet 5.5 inches (166.4 cm) and 110 pounds (50 kg); after his three year enlistment, he was 5 feet 7 inches (170 cm) and 145 pounds (66 kg).

Treated solely as a war movie To Hell and Back ticks all the right boxes - stunning action scenes, character comedy and the true cost of war are all depicted with the utmost of care. And Murphy playing himself gives a great performance, perhaps his often haunted look in this picture comes from the fact that he was remembering the actual events. And from the events depicted in this movie, Murphy's war must have truly been hell.

Just after noon on May 28, 1971 Murphy was killed when his private plane crashed into Brush Mountain, Virginia.

The document above and below is a copy of an eyewitness statement that resulted in Murphy gaining yet another medal. Click images for larger copy.


The movie's so close you can almost taste the anticipation.

Josh Brolin's make-up is not as extreme as in the comic book but the general look is there.

Compare the two images.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Alexander McCall Smith calls of tours due to volcanic ash

The author's newsletter broke the news which was also published on the author's Facebook page - Iceland, as we all know, is geologically unstable. If we didn't know that before, we certainly know it now. And this geological instability has caused, I'm sorry to say, the cancellation of my American and Canadian tour. So now I am writing this in Edinburgh, when I should be in the United States, at the beginning of a tour that would have taken me to a number of cities.

I am, of course, very sorry about this and I send my regrets to all those who had planned to attend one of my events. I love these occasions, as they give me a chance to meet readers and to discuss the latest news from the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, from Scotland Street, from the world of Isabel Dalhousie, or indeed from any of my fictional locations. I also wanted to share with you the new Mma Ramotswe book, The Double Comfort Safari Club. I am very pleased with this book and I do hope you'll have the opportuninty to join Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi on their trip to the Okavango Delta.

In the meantime, my warmest wishes (although warm wishes are perhaps not entirely appropriate when talking about volcanoes).


Book depository western charts

Thanks to Black Horse Express

Bestsellers on The Book Depository - 19 April

1. Blood on the Sky by Elliot Long

2. Killer on the Loose by Elliot Long

3. Death Range by Elliot Long

4. Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin

5. Trail of the Burned Man by Thomas McNulty

6. Wind Rider by Thomas McNulty

7. Hell Pass by Lance Howard

8. The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin

9. Doc Dryden, Gunslinger by Ted Rushgrove

10. Die This Day by Dempsey Clay


Fans waiting for the next James Bond movie will have a long wait, if reports in the L A Times are to be believed - the producers of the James Bond franchise have put the brakes on developing and producing the next installment of the 007 spy series because of the ongoing drama plaguing the franchise's home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

"Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development of ‘Bond 23' indefinitely," producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of Eon Productions said Monday. "We do not know when development will resume and do not have a date for the release of ‘Bond 23,'" which is the sequel to "Quantum of Solace," released by MGM's co-financing partner Sony Pictures in 2008.

The sequel was scheduled for release in late 2011 or in 2012 to coincide with the franchise's 50th anniversary. MGM had no official comment on the development. Saddled with $3.7 billion in debt, MGM's lenders have been pushing for either a sale of the company or a restructuring with an infusion of capital to remain a stand-alone operation.

Monday 19 April 2010


Prolific scribe, Lance Howard will this August see his 31st western, Dead Man Riding published by Black Horse Westerns.

Check out Howards Blog HERE

THE MAX by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr

This is the third book by the authors to feature Max Fisher and Angela Petrakos - the previous two books were Bust and Slide and even although I hadn't read these two books it in no way spoiled my enjoyment of The MAX - indeed reading this book prompted me to take a trip up the Amazon and order the two books.

The MAX opens with Max Fisher facing his first night in Attica, terrified that he is going to be buggered by his cell mate, Rufus and then gangbanged by the rest of his gang. However Max is not buggered that first night, nor even on subsequent nights after rumours get around that he is one mad, penis cutting, bad muther. He soon stars running the joint and the overweight, balding and aging white man reinvents himself as the hip-hopping, The MAX.

Angela meanwhile is over in Greece, mixed up with a sleazy Lee Child lookalike (at one point he uses his likeness to the famous author in order to join the Mile High Club) who is proving next to useless. However after killing her Greek landlord she finds herself in a Lesbos prison and discovers that the place lives up to its name.

The book is a delight to read - grim, nasty and absolutely hilarious. Several scenes had me laughing out loud. Some of the funniest sections contain extremely graphic violence which is delivered with tongue in the cheek, razor sharp prose. Lots of writers are name checked which adds to the fun for fans of the hard boiled genre - Megan Abbot, Richard Aleas are just two of the names mentioned, but the most fun is had with the sleazy Englishman who happens to be the dead ringer for author Lee Child. The scenes towards the end of the book between the lesbian crime writer and the Child's lookalike are a particular delight.

A great book -absurd, audacious and in true MAX'ian style, AWESOME.

Private life of the world's most wanted

According to a new book terrorist Bin Laden, when not plotting attacks against the west, is a voracious reader and volleyball fan - LONDON: Apart from plotting terror attacks, Osama bin Laden is passionate about volleyball and football, and he's also a voracious reader who often enjoys quoting from the memoirs of two top World War II strategists, a new book has claimed.

According to the book, the world's most wanted man is an extremely useful presence on the volleyball court. "He's so tall that he doesn't need to jump up to do a smash," Britain's 'The Sunday Times' quoted author Nasser al-Bahri, one of the al-Qaida leader's former bodyguards, as saying.

The book, titled 'In the Shadow of Bin Laden', also claims that bin Laden likes playing football, preferably at centre forward, but he never takes off his turban; he's passionate about race horses too.

Moreover, the al-Qaida leader is an avid reader who loves quoting from memoirs of Britain's Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, one of the most inspirational military commanders of the Second World War, and former French President General Charles de Gaulle, the 38-year-old bodyguard says.

However, the book claims that bin Laden's domestic life is no bed of roses.

Though the al-Qaida was careful to avoid conflict with his four wives -- each trained in the use of a Kalashnikov -- he's powerless to stop the first, a "seductive" but uneducated Syrian from being fiercely jealous of the second, an older, more erudite Saudi woman whom he would often consult on issues of "Islamic science", it says.

Sunday 18 April 2010


Weekly Stats Report: 12 Apr - 18 Apr 2010

Unique Visitors143154164151102114146974139
First Time Visitors1231281251227993124794113
Returning Visitors2026392923212218026


A sixteen year old female western writer and one that's been published professionally - now that's got to be a novelty. Check out the details HERE


Librarians in New York's oldest library have uncovered a surprising book thief: George Washington.

The first president of the United States of America borrowed two books from the New York Society Library in 1789 but failed to return them.

Adjusted for inflation, he has since racked up $300,000 (£195,000) in fines for being some 220 years late.

The New York Society Library says it will not pursue the fine. It would simply like the books back.

He famously never told a lie, but it seems George Washington was not without his faults, the BBC's Madeleine Morris notes, reporting from Washington.

Two small losses

On 5 October 1789, the first president borrowed two books from what was then the only library in Manhattan - "Law of Nations," a dissertation on international relations, and a volume of debate transcripts from Britain's House of Commons.

George Washington did not even bother to sign his name in the borrower's ledger. An aide simply scrawled "president" next to the title to show who had taken them out.

The two tomes were due back a month later but were never returned and have been accruing late fees ever since. Librarians uncovered the misdemeanour as they were digitising the library's ledger from that time.

The New York Society Library says it will not pursue the fine but it would like the books back.

Saturday 17 April 2010


London 1888

A string of brutal murders

A sensationalist press campaign

This sordid and brutal affair has become part of folklore, Jack the Ripper is seen as a cross between Dr Jekyll and Dracula and the poor women who perished at the hands of the unknown killer, real flesh and blood people, have become generic prostitutes, Victorian white trash, in the mish-mash of fact and fiction. Over the years various theories have been put forward as to the identity of the killer who glides, vampiric cape flapping, through our consciousness on a miasmic cloud - some have been plausible, others have been laughable.

Lewis Carrol and Arthur Conan Doyle are just two of the most ridiculous subjects put forward as the Ripper.

There are people who have devoted much of their lives to the study of the case - Ripperologists they call themselves and as a collective they are responsible for much of the learned and studious, as well as some of the most bizarre, books on the subject.

Jack has been claimed by the media and treated as any of the villains of Gothic literature - movies have played with the story, Jack has faced off against Sherlock Holmes and Billy the Kid as well as showing up in HBO's excellent, much missed, Deadwood. In comic books the prototype serial killer has become something of a super hero hunting down Victorian vampires. And go into any fancy dress shop and you can get a Naughty Nurse -, er sorry, a Jack the Ripper costume. For an anonymous killer we seem to have a good idea what he looked like.

This summer my debut mystery/crime novel, A Policeman's Lot will be published by Solstice Publishing and offers yet another take on the Ripper story. And I'm not alone - many writers have used the Ripper within their fiction.

So what is it about the Ripper that makes it okay for us to create fictions around the character?

We would never dream of writing a novel intended to entertain around the likes of Ted Bundy or Fred West, and yet is there a difference? Does the fact that the Ripper killings were never solved make it morally okay to build entertainments around what were, in reality, a brutally cruel series of killings?

I don't know the answer to that.

These questions were very in mind when I was writing the novel, but I did a lot of research into the crimes, read reams of documents, visited murder sites, almost broke my back carrying books from the library and spent two enjoyable days with a Ripper expert visiting what remains of the murder sites. I felt that if I was going to write this book then I needed to believe the theory the book gives to the identity of the killer and I really do.

In the novel we are introduced to Police Inspector Frank Parade - his beat is Pontypridd, a busy town in industrial South Wales that rests at the foot of both the coal rich Rhonnda and Cynon Valleys. The year is 1904 and the world famous Buffalo Bill's Wild West Circus is in town as part of its European tour. Parade is not impressed and finds Cody a braggard. Cody for his part feels very much the same.

‘We mostly shoot blank rounds of course,’ Cody said, ‘and when we do use live ammunition it’s usually nothing more than buck shot. Doesn’t go too far.’

‘Of course.’

‘And we don’t usually walk around armed. After all this isn’t the Wild West now.’

‘I’m pleased to hear it,’ Parade said with a wry smile. ‘I don’t think we could cope with a gunfight on Taff Street.’

Into this mix comes a grisly series of killings that have their origin in the London Whitechapel killings of 1888. Before the book is over the identity of the killer will finally be revealed, the case solved by a Welsh Policeman and an American legend.

The thing I'm most proud of here is that the theory given as to the Ripper's identity is unique, has never been out forward before and yet it's a name that has always been known to those familiar with the case. It also makes perfect sense and fits the known facts and what's more I don't know where it came from. It just developed in the writing and then in the research I found some uncanny details that fitted so well. Since completing the novel I have continued with my research into the killings and I believe now, more than ever, that I may actually have something here. But then I suppose any writer, trying to pimp interest in his book, would say that but honestly I really do...

Jack the Ripper
Case Closed
A Policeman's Lot

Friday 16 April 2010

Australia empowers Big Tobacco with its new draconian and simply barking mad vape restrictions

 From July 1st 2024 it will be illegal to own or buy any vaping device other than from pharmacies, and flavours will be limited to mint, men...