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a tale of rum town


Want to be part of an Experiment?

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A Tale of Rum Town is a book I’ve written and published on Kindle. I’m running an experiment with Amazon’s algorithms but I need some help. If you’ve got a spare 2 minutes go to my Kindle book page for A Tale of Rum Town and add some tags. Put in whatever you think appropriate and any, or all, of these tags:

low magic

less than epic

criminal fantasy

fantasy adventure


Tell your friends to jump on and add tags. I’d like to see how many tags can be added in a week.

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Rum Town: slums of Ferris

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This ramshackle section of Freeport is effectively walled off from the rest of the city. No less than fourteen watchtowers and gatehouses monitor egress and entry to Rum Town. Within its narrow dark streets the seediest parts of Ferris operate. A small section of waterfront takes in various goods and people from sea travel. Rum Town was once a royal distillery that grew its rare crops within the protection of its walled fortifications. A fire was set by Krakmoor saboteurs, when the delta was being fought over, and it was ruined. After the battle for Ferris was won by the Iron Claw forces the area was sold off with subsidies for building tenements with more than a dozen living quarters. The poor and criminal moved in and were thus contained by the existing walls – as was planned all along. That was centuries ago and Rum Town has festered away to the point where the watch rarely enter its walls.

Trivia: “A Tale of Rum Town” is set almost entirely within the walls of this ward.

Rum Town is notorious around the Bay of Carnarvon as the seediest place in the Kingdom of Iron Claw but within its own confines are the infamous Warrens. An arcing mile on the west of Rum Town where the oldest and most run-down tenements lean over the narrow streets. Buildings here look threatening to fall and some are clearly propped against others or even the wall itself where the stone is within reach. The Warrens is a mix of abandoned buildings, squatters, and ruins that is an urban wilderness for the most dangerous. A gang that strikes fear into the hearts of even the toughest Rum Towner, called The Shrikes, masses like a swarm against intruders after dark. Some say that there are even goblins in the Warrens but few believe the homeless that tell such tales.


Rum Town update

Designer notes: I put this map together as an experimental “grunge” style. It ain’t too bad.

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Tales of Khara Thel: is it growing?

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One of my gaming buddies asked me today if he could write a story set in Ferris – the same city that “A Tale of Rum Town” takes place within. Rum Town is actually where he wants to set his story. Is this a sign of Khara Thel’s appeal, that someone who has only just started reading about, and learning a little bit about, wants to write a tale set there?

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A Tale of Rum Town: Easter coupon special

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A Tale of Rum Town on Smashwords has an Easter coupon special. Get it for under a buck at US$0.99 if you enter the coupon code: LX53J


It is only valid until late April so get in quick to get a tale of the gritty underworld of a fantasy big city for a good Easter read.



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A Tale of Rum Town: published to Kindle

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It’s gone through the Amazon equivalent of Smashwords’ meatgrinder and now A Tale of Rum Town is available on Kindle for only US$1.99 – you can get it here or click on the cover art below.



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A Tale of Ten Covers

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Designing your own cover takes a fair bit of persistence and a decent eye for composition. What is especially hard when doing so for Kindle is that the resize of the image has to still be legible enough to entice a buyer. That has been my hurdle over the last weeks; resizing the image and still being readable.

Kindle resizes your cover image to 115px square for the gallery. By resizing your image (a copy so you don’t accidentally save it small) resize so its largest dimension is 115 pixels. That’s pretty close to how it will look on the Kindle gallery of eBooks.

I’ve done ten covers and I’m listing the evolution to what my current “go with” cover, from earliest at number one.

  1. COVER_02
  2. COVER_04
  3. COVER_04a_2
  4. COVER_04a_3
  5. COVER_04a_colour_500px_wd
  6. COVER_04a_colour_800px_hi
  7. COVER_05b_gold_blue
  8. COVER_05c_gold_blue
  9. COVER_05e_gold_blue
  10. COVER_05f_gold_blue

Some pointers? Use fonts without lots of dangly bits. Avoid too sharp an edge. It makes the object look pasted on instead of “part” of the image. Avoid clutter: it’s just more detail that can pixelate when the cover is resized.

This image could be polished some more, I’m thinking, so it will likely change to a small image and larger text for the title. For those of you on a similar journey, into ePublishing, hope you get some useful tips from this. Leave a comment &/or subscribe.

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Second Pass Editing – A Tale of Rum Town

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Today I completed the second round of editing “A Tale of Rum Town”. There were loads of typos, spelling errors, and poor grammar. Added to that a few continuity problems and inconsistent, as well as confusing, use of names. It’s really tight now and one more editing pass should seal it up.


A few readers are still to provide me with feedback so I’m looking for any more readers who’re willing to give it a proof-read and offer feedback with the usual non-disclosure agreements in place.


Still to be done:

*Map of Rum Town (solid draft is done, but need to get the finished work)

*Secure cover artist and finalise cover concept

*Edit lead pages

*Decide if an ISBN should be purchased

*Decide if a glossary and, or, other appendices are required


It will be released on Amazon Kindle and probably a few other eBook vendors shortly after that.

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Second Khara Thel Novel Completed

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A Tale of Rum Town, is completed. This will likely not be a free download as it is many times better a tale than “Bounty for the Taking”. And in celebration a change of theme. Something nice and green but still slightly old style.

Don’t despair, though, for I will give the first chapter away.



Crottle stepped quietly through the shadows of Mastview Alley. Once upon a time, he supposed, you could see the masts on the wharves of Ferris. Now the buildings were all at least three stories high and so close together many parts of Rum Town were in permanent shadow. If only he was like Patchwork and could traverse Rum Town from end to end without touching the ground – leaping from rooftop to wall to rooftop. That would be the way to travel. No risk from gangs, beggars, cutpurses and footpads. If he could do that he could operate at any other time except the dead of night where he was now.

Parkey said that Patchwork never goes to the surface except for a contract. Patchwork even sleeps in a place that you can’t get to unless you jump from a six-storey tenement. Anyway, what does Parkey know except the bottom of a jug of rum. This night Parkey was probably slumped in an alley full of rubbish so drunk he’d filled his pants with his own nightsoil. Rats would be nibbling off what was left of his ears.

No, Parkey was not to be worried about. Crottle’s days of having to pay Parkey with coin or booze just to learn about Rum Town, without having his pocket picked or his throat slit, would be over after this. When he completed this job for Harkett he would be out of Rum Town and down to East Freeport where he’d finally see daylight anytime he wanted. That and he’d work for The Cartel. Harkett had made him a good offer and Harkett was the collector for the leader of The Cartel – Medesca. That was a man to respect and fear. Crottle hadn’t seen him but he’d heard a lot about him – oh yes. A genius at plotting and getting away with all kinds of heists, burglaries, thefts and contraband sales. In Crottle’s mind Medesca was going to take over all the underworld of Ferris.

Slick black cobblestone led into the blind alley. It was narrow enough that he could touch both walls by just bending his arms at the elbows. Two people would touch if they tried to pass. It was at this point that Crottle started to climb. He pressed his back against one side, toes of his supple boots against the other, and then lifted and braced his way upwards.

In a few dozen accelerating heartbeats he reached the shutter and braced in position to fix a stiff guard on his wrist. He would have to brace across the narrow alley with one hand to open the shutters. Crottle had trained for four weeks to build his endurance but his wrist wasn’t strong enough. He still fell on the mats and rags until the idea of a wrist brace occurred to Crottle. He built one out of old boots and an archer’s vambrace and that made the difference. With the brace he could maintain the position long enough to get open the shutters with one hand.

Now he carefully slid out his tools. Long and of steel the probes and hooks were in a buckram roll with each tool in its own firm pocket. All Crottle needed was one of those tools now. With all the practice he was surprised that the latch of the shutters came open so easily. A small tin flask of oil with a pointed nozzle was the next device to deliver lubricant to the hinges. They opened with very little sound.

This was going well, Crottle thought.

Meeze, the street rat, had kept an eye on Murchison’s house for a a week. All Crottle had to do was feed Meeze, and give her the lure of a shilling at the end of it all. That shilling was costly but Crottle thought it worth so. Meeze was only about nine or ten years old but a tough little rat of a street urchin. She was also very smart. Crottle thought of her as like his niece. If this went well he would offer her a place to live and run errands for him once he was out in East Freeport. Murchison had left today with travelling bags and Meeze was quick to report. It was too good an opportunity to let go.

Crottle braced again and sorted his gear. He worked the oil-paper window with his probes then oiled the hinges just like with the shutters. With great care Crottle eased into the window, gripping the top of its frame with a steely grip.

It was so dark he could see nothing of use. Just blocky shadows amongst pitch-black. Closing the window and the shutters he set about lighting his tiny shuttered hand-lantern. Outside he heard voices.

‘Thought I saw ‘im go in here. I’m sure it was Crottle – stinking rat-turd thief,’ a nasal whining voice said.

‘Could have been a rat,’ said the other, deeper voice.

‘It weren’t no rat, hare-brain,’ said the first.

Crottle’s neck grew cold and he quickly hid against the wall of the room that faced the alley then shuttered his lantern.

‘Where are we?’ asked the deeper voice.

‘I think we’re near that money-lender – Murchison’s house,’ said the nasal voice.

Who were these two? Crottle asked himself. He heard their feet scuff through the detritus of old shingles, potsherds, and smashed tiles. They stopped almost right under the window.

‘I smell’im,’ said the nasal voice.

A deep laughter came out, ‘You can’t smell anything since Harkett broke your nose. You said so yourself!’ mocked the deeper voice.

Now Crottle knew who it was. Jenk Sonner the smuggler and his bodyguard, Hurmgaal – the half-ogre. Even though he was up in Murchison’s house and there was no way either of them would climb up he felt afraid. Ever since Crottle had scouted Jenk’s stash of grapeleaf-nectar, and stole it for Harkett, Jenk had been after him for revenge. It didn’t matter that Harkett kicked Hurmgaal in the groin then broke Jenk’s nose they still wanted to catch him – perhaps moreso, now that he was looked out for by Harkett.

‘He ain’t here,’ Hurmgaal said, plainly indicating he though they were wasting their own time.

‘Well not now but he was. I swear,’ Jenk was begrudgingly ready to go.

‘Sure. Let’s go where we’s meant to be,’ Hurmgaal said.

The two in the alley made their way back out. Scuffing as they went completely careless of how much noise they made.

Crottle slowly relaxed and unshuttered his lantern. The room was quite sparse. A trunk and a chest of drawers near a bed-frame. It looked like it hadn’t been used in years and Crottle could plainly see that he was leaving tracks in the dust. He silently cursed and decided he’d have to clean the whole room since he couldn’t put the dust back where it was meant to be.

Creeping through the dark house interior Crottle finally found a locked door. After deftly bypassing the lock and the pathetic needle trap he found a small room that contained an large iron bounded trunk. Using his probes and listening carefully he picked his way over the floor to the trunk. The lantern guttered as it ran out of oil and started to fade. The pointy bottle of oil was used to top it off with little risk of a fire and light was safely had again.

The trunk posed a problem. Crottle had to get out most of his tools and carefully apply pressure in three ways to pop the lock and not the dart-trap. If he ever lost his legs he’d make better traps for chests. As the lid swung open Crottle saw small buckram sacks that looked to be filled with coin – and they were. A small fortune in shillings and florins. He started stuffing his chestpack and kidney-bag then slowed down. Time was his. Murchison wouldn’t be back at least until tomorrow. Crottle picked the bags by their silver content and when he was laden left the rest. If he felt up to it he could come back. No, he wouldn’t, on second thoughts. Crottle locked the chest and then the small room before dusting off the floor where he entered Murchison’s house. With difficulty bracing on one arm he managed to latch the window and shutters then descend to the narrow alley.

The sun was just beginning to light the east into a grey line when he returned to his back-lot tenement bolt hole. Some bread he’d left behind from his evening meal was eaten and a nearly sour goblet of wine washed it down. Within minutes of shedding his loot and hiding it behind the wall panel he was asleep.

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