Buzzword Books - unusual, intriguing, intelligent, perceptive

Here, you'll find musings from our authors and staff. We don't promise daily updates. Just posts worth your time.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Idiot sailor tackles the Bahamas

Inspired by a personal tragedy and plain dumbness, this intrepid fool and neophyte sailor set off from Florida to the Bahamas - and found that things don't automatically go right. Read his account here:

They say that after a personal tragedy, you should wait a year before making any big or important decisions. The wisdom of this is both obvious and self evident. That being said, three days after my wife died, I decided to: quit my job, sell my car, sell my house, give away all my stuff, buy a sailboat and sail the carribbean for a year.

I would become a "Sailorman".

For the next month I pondered this decision deeply. By which I mean I didn't think about it at all. I was too busy being desperately unhappy, missing my wife, and trying to think of a reason to continue what looked to be a long bleak lonely life. Eventually I began to once more consider this vaguely formed idea to head for the "Islands in the Stream", and I immediately leapt into action. I grabbed a beer from the fridge, popped a DVD into the player, and plopped down on my recliner. I would watch a movie and then think about the future. The movie was a musical called “Mama Mia”, and as I sat there rocking out to ABBA cover songs I realized something; There was a dude in this movie that sailed his boat around the world to exotic places, and then wrote books about them!!!

It was fate, destiny, kismet, some other word that means something similar but that I don’t remember! I could do what he did. I mean, he was a man, I was a man. He was a writer; I wanted to be a writer. He had a sailboat; I could probably get a sailboat.

Only two things stood between me and the realization of my dream. I wasn’t sure I could write (or even spell), and I was completely sure I couldn’t sail a boat.

This book is not about sailing, although I do sail (poorly). It's a book about a clueless dweeb, who dreams of trying to accomplish something that he is not trained for, is constitutionally built to fail at, and is so abjectly terrified of, he cries himself to sleep thinking about it.   Him, not me, real men don’t cry. They whimper softly, then fart from the effort of holding in the sobs.

In The first seven sailing days on my boat I: got a concussion, ran aground breaking my $4000.00 rudder, caught a flesh eating disease, almost losing my foot and my life, had my identity stolen, sprang a leak and began sinking, was rammed by a multi-millionaire in a huge yacht, was almost run down by a humongous cruise ship in the gulf stream between Florida and the Bahamas, and got a blister.

After that, it got a little hairy.

I wrote this "Diary" as a series of E-Mails to family, and friends I met as I traveled. I am told that they would often take them to bars with other friends, or just have a party. Read them aloud, and laugh their asses off.

Because disaster can be really funny, when it happens to someone else. 

(90,700 words)
Check out this new book here

Child molestation, mayhem and murder

True crime relating to children - detailed, searing, forensic, incredible and totally researched.

Introducing one of our newest and most disturbing books - Suffer Little Children - cases of child molestation - a record of man's inhumanity to man.

The stories covered in the collection range from historical to very recent. There is a chapter about the 18th Century torture-murderer Elizabeth Brownrigg, the racist 1955 slaying of Emmett Till and the 1965 Alice Crimmins case.

Other cases include the “Burn Boy” case of David Rothenberg, the famous Polly Klaas case, the murder of child actress Judith Barsi, the molestations committed by “Father” John Geoghan, the torturing to death of Sylvia Likens, the 2011 water-deprivation murder of 10-year-old Jonathan James.

And there's the 1973 case of Poor Little Rich Boy, Jean Paul Getty III, grandson of the wealthiest man on earth.

Denise Noe is relentless in her research and most of the stories appearing here have been previously published. Finally, they are presented together, collated into an ebook. Highly recommended.  (78,000 words.)

To find this book on Buzzword Books - click here.

Sunday, 15 January 2017


John Alexandra, author of The Wisdom of Being, tells it like it is. What can I really say I know? And what is the difference between knowledge and being?

I know, for instance, that I exist. And, apparently, so does everything around me. Including the endless, staggering profusion of galaxies that reduces my existential self to less than nothing.

However, it usually doesn't occur to me that this infinity extends in two directions. To the microscopic creatures that live in and crawl over me, to the individual cells of my body, the viruses afflicting me, the load of bacteria in my gut, the colonies on my eyelids.

In other words, I rarely if ever comprehend that I am a miniature universe—perhaps a mirror reflection of the immensity engulfing me.

Then, beyond this microcosm, a further infinity dances—the still incomprehensible mystery of particle physics.

So what, after all, do I know when even the greatest minds are stumped and can't, for example, locate most of the matter of the universe?

I know that I am here?

But what is 'I'?

A tree is here, but, deconstructed, becomes a collection of leaves, an accumulation of cells, a chemical combination, a seed that becomes a tree which seeds again and dies.

Anything reduced to its components vanishes into nothing.

Am I any different?

If I observe my psychology, I find a collection of emotional reactions which in turn prompt associative thoughts and physical tensions. Each potentiates the other. My so-called personality is simply this random collection running in habitual groves, entirely without supervision.

As such, I am an automaton. There is no 'I' to monitor this process—this pinball cavalcade.

Just like the tree, if my psychology is deconstructed, it becomes little more than a process. My 'I' is fictional—self-delusion.

So what can 'I' know when there is no I in my mechanism at all?

Which brings me closer to the truth of myself. I know nothing. Except, at times, vaguely, that 'I' am here.
But even this 'here' is uncertain.
In the midst of my multiform reactions—external and internal—am I aware even for an instant that I am surrounded by a body with sensations?

Are you aware, for instance, now, of the impressions coming from your left foot? Perhaps, of a moment, now that you are reminded. But then the sensation is gone. Because you are back thinking about it. Thinking your life away. Back in your busy head, a function of random thought which has no consistency or weight.

I know nothing. Least of all myself.

Now let's change the question.

What is this universe, that I am apparently a miniscule part of, for? Why is it here? Why does it exist? Why does anything exist?

And, as I am here, to what purpose? Is there something I am expected to do? And, if so, why is my lifespan so trivial? What on earth can be accomplished in a fleeting 75 years?

And does this limitless miracle I inhabit have a purpose? Or is it all just insensate clockwork—a vast, empty, terrifying process?

What, after all, can I know? Why think about such things?

Certainly, we'll never find answers by 'taking thought', because thought is a mechanistic process—an agitation of the mind.

So, if I'm really serious, I need a finer tool for observation.

As Jacob Bohme put it: 'If thou canst for a while but cease from all thy thinking and willing, then....the eternal hearing, speaking and seeing will be revealed in thee.'
Is it true? Or simply the ravings of a medieval mystic?

The answer to all questions comes when we abandon our habitual linear thinking and enter the arena of Being.

If I can abandon myself entirely—equivalent to psychological death—something new appears. The energy, previously consumed by my churning, reactions to life, is freed. Free attention. Suddenly, I begin to BE.

Some call this shift entering the NOW. I no longer think in the old way. Thought becomes a watchfulness that does nothing but observe. A finer energy infuses me that resolves all contradictions.

All questions are resolved at that moment. Suddenly, I have everything I need. Nothing is absent, wished, required. I simply, inclusively, AM. But not I. Because there is only one thing, not two.

Of course, next moment, the vision is lost and I am back in the process of myself.

But if I can find the door to this once, I can find it again.

What remains—is offered—is to open the life to this quest. Or, in other words, to this inner tuning, alignment, listening. To the unmistakeable, revolutionary certainty of becoming.

But I can't do it. 'Doing' is the old. A process in time.

And the NOW is not in time at all! NOW stops time.

Therefore, all I can 'do' is BE.

As the Zen sage Baso put it:
Miraculous deeds and acts of wonder.
I carry water. I fetch kindling.

In short, I join the universe. And fulfil my destiny and purpose.

You can find The Wisdom of Being on Buzzword.


Saturday, 29 October 2016


David Farnsworth, poet and traveller, records some more observations about this curious world.

Mt Macedon, Recollected, Early Spring
A couple of maidens and I were
sussing out a walk from the
Tea Rooms Car Park and the Camel's Hump.

I have mostly unpleasant memories
of camels. There was Cable Beach where
our camel was not well.

It stumbled when walking through a
dry creek bed. My partner was not small.
I was behind her. "I can't see a thing!"

Then there was a camel tethered
half-way up a hill in Northern China
hoping some of the 50,000 visitors

would accept an invitation to have
their photograph taken while on its back.
But I prevaricate.

The air was chill. Snow flurries
covered my furry hat, clung to my
beard, while frozen snow drifts crunchd.

The path was wet. The local leeches
hadn't seen this much blood on the move
since the last kangaroo.

One small leech latched on but found
my blood too alcoholic. Why would you
risk cirrhosis on such a small liver?

It dropped off the pace. I found
a drunkard further on, attached to my
ankle, horribly bloated.

Always carry salt on bush walks.
"So stretcht out huge in length the
Arch-fiend lay."

I demolished her between two rocks.
My life's blood flowed out of her.
It twitched.

Scarcely knowing tother leg from twitch
I made it to the Hump. How pleasant
the view! How sweet the water in rock cavities!

24/ 02/ 16


What a great restaurant. The jimmy
Woodsers occupy a tall bar stool,
the bar-flies cluster as the bar.

Mine Host keeps the wretches happy.
"It's his playground," he tells me. The
waitresses are all care, polishing

the water glasses until they shine. Then the
plastic covered menus get the treatment.
This is a seriously good bistro/bar.

Where else can you get an incredible
pasta dish and seriously good wine
for $15.00?

24/ 02/ 16

The Main Street Woodend

We're in an environmentally friendly town.
Hessian bags are de rigeur. Shops offer
gifts from your worst nightmare

Aficionados buy metal parrots and
old wares that their great-grand
mothers may have discarded years ago.

The junk goes into the car, it goes
onto the roof. At Home they have
serious problems deciding where it all should go.

24/ 02/ 16

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Tales and terrors from the middle of nowhere from a traveller to half the world's countries.

 Andy McGinlay is a traveller with a difference. He goes to the most outlandish places. He's either chasing IS in Afghanistan, being arrested for spying in Syria, being kidnapped in Kashmir or getting caught in a coup in Fiji.


Halfway to Everywhere is an evocative collection of 15 vignettes about travel in the world’s most frightening, remote and often most beautiful countries and a key theme that runs through the stories is the difficulty in getting from A to B and the people, the brave locals, who rise up to help the far-flung foreigner author.


The book - written between 2000 - 2015 - takes you on a far-reaching journey through Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands and beyond, from edgy global hotspots you see on the evening news, to places you are curious about but would never dream of going. To idyllic tropical beaches in countries most people have never heard of. 


The book’s title derives from the fact there’s 196 countries in the world and the author has travelled to 100 of them, so is 'halfway to everywhere'.


Fast-paced, tightly written and at times gripping accounts of life, packed with quotes and rich in detail, these stories from 15 countries around the world will entertain everyone from casual travellers to hardcore backpackers. It’s the essential ‘airport-book’ for an 18-45 year old male en-route to his holiday in the sun. Recommended.


Halfway to Everywhere is available on our sister site, Bookbooster.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016


Grab your Kindle and read the new blast—the brief and brutal bad-arse book.

   Unless you're in a nursing home, you haven't got time for War and Peace.
   Life is fast. Public transport slow.
   Calls for a Turkish coffee type hit.
       Short and pure caffeine.
Enter the brutal ebook romp. Stuffed with crime, vengeance, sadistic satisfaction. It covers a minimal timespan. Has characters damaged, deadly. A plot, frightening and full on.
You read facts, mam. Facts. No subtle touches, long descriptions, fancy words.  Just action, brutality and blood.
The good guts. Distilled for quick consumption.
We've recently published two of these. Here's a summary of what you get:

Hoi Polloi is romp that happens in one night, written by Aussie, Samuel Elliott—who's distilled his own experience as a cog in a Sports TV station. Foxtel?
It's the graveyard shift at Premium Sports Australia. The hero, Sam, is coping with his dead-end job when Jerome, a fired employee sneaks back into the building, hell bent on getting his own back on all the patronising shits who've made his life in the place hell.
The two have never been great buddies, but Sam's coerced to go along with Jerome's rampage because he fears Jerome just might have a point. And just might have a gun.
This is a gut-twisting take on what happens when you  badmouth one employee to another. Jerome intends to trash the office but that's just the start. The action, and tension amp up with each event.
This book works because the author knows exactly what it feels like to be shat upon in a heartless corporation with spurious pretentions—in this case, one that grinds out mindless sports programs. 
How do we know this? Because this reviewer's been there too, at the beginning of the TV area. In that dark past, there was equal exploitation. People were so desperate to get into television, they could be hired for peanuts. Be warned. Hopefuls who cling to the fringe of media and 'art' mostly cope with a pretty sick scene.

The next book, Queer Street, is the brainwave of Ray Johnstone, another Australian author who runs a hotel in France. Ray has already written All Fall Down—an accomplished young-adult novel about surviving WW2 in Paris. After we published this, he decided to revamp an earlier book—a total switch. A nasty gang-land crime story deliberately written with minimalist directness for the short read ebook market.
 Two friends meet at a tough school in a sordid city. When a cruel teacher bashes them both senseless, a blood knot is formed, and their revenge is destined to be sweet.
By their late teens they have built a drug empire. But when a rival gang muscles in, someone has to be wasted and this sparks bloody war between the gangs.
As the body count builds, the Police Chief calls in a bounty hunter to rid his city of the problem. His brief is simple: kill both gang leaders.
Ray has pulled out the stops for this one—inspired by Pulp Fiction and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Crooked cops. Merciless villains. Bashings, murder, torture, and something worse... Because there's a wasteland just out of town. And what happens there isn't nice at all.

So if you like your action fast, spare, brutal and telegraphically written—you could do worse than download these two shockers. No you won't find them on Buzzword. We list our pocket blockbusters on Book Booster.
What's that? Our revamped sister site. You'll find them listed under THRILLERS here

Tuesday, 9 August 2016


Years ago, when this blog started, we asked Clinton Smith to contribute something about good English expression. He then gave us something he originally wrote for the advertising and marketing weekly, B&T (published in 1985) which he revised for the blog. The other day we came across it again and decided to reissue it. Because the need is great, as there are now fewer workers in the vinyard. ('Fewer', note, not 'less'.).
Since the rudiments of English were banished from Australian curricula, even university graduates exhibit their ignorance when they speak.

As for the frantic yobbos in the media, they no longer even understand the difference between singular and plural constructions.

'There's (there is) fifteen people in the waiting room.' This has become the endemic slipshod truncation. Now even news bulletins don't bother with the elision there're (there are). It means that people hear the dreaded 'is' so often that they begin to think it's correct.
'The flooding and destruction is considered to be worse than...'

It IS (singular) They ARE (plural). Is this hard? Apparently so. Because even ABC presenters consistently get it wrong. My nose is cold. My hands and my nose are cold. My dad was going. My aunt and my dad were going.

Then, nominative and objective case: Fred and I (subject) saw (verb) dad (object).

Alternatively, Dad saw me (object).

But now, it's become, 'Me and Fred saw dad.' Soon we'll have: 'Dad saw I.'

It hasn't quite become that silly yet, but it's close.

Hackneyed words come from lazy minds in a groove. The hackneyed words of journalise assault us every day:

'The massive unrest in the country has now escalated.'

What coven of editors insists on this stupid 'unrest'? Have they never heard of violence, brutality, disorder, disruption, agitation? Why persist with this lame weasel word? And their famous 'unrest' inevitably escalates. It never increases, elevates, expands, swells, extends or magnifies.

Unrest is also generally 'massive'. (They love the thump of the double syllable). No longer is anything large, considerable, big, huge, sizeable, gigantic, colossal, vast, enormous or immense. Cliché words destroy language because shades of meaning suffer.

The hapless victims of 'unrest' are inevitably 'hospitalised' Yuck! (It's been thirty years since they just went to hospital.)

Then there's the hideous 'prestigious'. The word prestige originally meant imposture. It does again when 'ious' is tacked on. This non-word is the staple of a real-estate industry that can't extend beyond cheap labels to language. (Influential perhaps, distinguished, distinctive, reputable, impressive?) You see how language dies when an idiot word becomes entrenched? As for real estate agents, their properties inevitably 'boast' an extensive terrace or double car port. Boast? Give it a rest. Features, perhaps? There's nothing creative about  minds that reach for hammers instead of colours, moods and tones.

As for 'proven'. Today, everything is 'proven' - even though the strong, honest and right past participle remains 'proved'. Proven is an archaic Scottish legal term.

Then there is the bastard lingo of business-speak. One example will suffice.

Proactive. What on earth does this adopted American horror mean? Use positive, intentional… anything but this.

And what of officialise? This cant of posturing obfuscators is supposed to make threadbare statements portentous.
In respect of... (concerning, about).
With reference to... (about, regarding).
Within the realms of possibility... (possible).
At this point of time... (now).
Give consideration to... (consider).
Will become a reality... (will happen).
Behaviour pattern... (behaviour).
Bring under control... (control, manage).
As follows... (follows).

Things are as bad with the weather. It used to rain. Now we have a 'rain event', although 'climatic conditions', thank God, seems a stupidity in decline. And, of course, car yards no longer have sales. That's too simple. They now, inevitably, have a SALE EVENT.

By the way, people are whos not that’s. The person that I saw. Wrong! Unless it was a cyborg. The person who, please. Whom, if you're over 80.

The longer construction is generally worse because it replaces emphasis with length. If simplicity was good enough for Shakespeare, it's good enough for you.
Transport. Not 'transportation'. Administer. Not 'administrate'. Leader. Not 'protagonist'. Low cost (if you can't abide cheap). Not 'inexpensive'. Enough. Not 'sufficient'. Begin. Not 'commence' or 'initiate'. Often. Not 'frequently' First. Not 'initial'. Wrong. Not 'incorrect'. End. Not 'conclude'.

Use. Not 'utilize'.
The longer word also implies evasion. The Anglo-Saxon alternative is more emphatic and understandable. Less is more.

Punctuation is another problem.
The rule is simple. No period if the last letter of the word is shown. Hence: Dr, Mr, Ms, St, Rd.
And: Ave. Co. Prof. Inc.
Then the possessive. Fred's house. A year's holiday.
But if the noun becomes plural, the apostrophe moves to the end. Five years' holiday. Ten mens' houses.
Wrong. It's 'all right'. Alright is all wrong.

As for pronunciation (no, not pronounciation):
It's stAYtus. Not STATus.
It's DAta. Not DARta.
It's KILLometre. Not kilOMeter.
It's CONTroversy. Not conTROversy.
It's MEMo. Not MEEMo.

And why are things never unique any more? But always more, very, totally or rather unique? You can't qualify an absolute. So you can't say absolutely amazing, very exceptional, more special and most ideal. Tweak words expressing finite value and your ignorance shouts. Something is either unique or not.

Speaking of ignorance:
It's adaptation, not 'adaption'.
As for imply and infer...
I can imply something and you can then infer something from that implication. So if I infer something, I do it from another's words, acts or attitude.
This brings to mind the other sure-fire sorter of sheep from goats:
Less and fewer.
The rule of thumb is that less refers to quantity or amount, fewer to individual items or number.
So fewer people now have less money.
And those with less courage have fewer opportunities.
Tell this to the ABC. Many have. But, unfortunately, nothing would change if you emailed them for a year.

As for the Subjunctive, it's a mood almost extinct. (What is he talking about here?) Well, as one rule of thumb, if the sentence refers to the hypothetical, use 'were'.
'If I were (not was) brave enough, I'd try sky-diving.'
'If I were you, I'd hit him.'

Then there are misquotes and mistaken words. For instance:
'At one foul swoop.' It's fell - meaning fierce, terrible.
'Abdicate responsibility. Abrogate please - meaning cancel, repeal.
'In the lap of the gods.' To be over-pedantic in this list of pet peeves, Homer actually said 'on the knees of.'

Why bother with all this?
Because, although the English language is adaptive, it still needs care.
So next time you reach for the slipshod construction or threadbare phrase, consider how you could say it in another, simpler way. If we bothered to do this, language would flower.
And, yes, it's worth the attempt.
Because each effort to be a little more intentional about what we say makes a difference.
Help free speech!

You'll find Clint's books on Buzzword.