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Boxing’s very own Walter Mitty – Charlie Zelenoff: Living the Delusion

As most of my friends and family know, I’m quite the boxing fan and enthusiast, though of an age now that that enthusiasm restricts me to whacking a punchbag, yelling from the stands, or in the case of the recent Fury/Wilder fight, shouting at the telly. Like a lot of people though, watching that fight prompted me to scroll through a lot of old YouTube boxing-related vids … it was then I stumbled across the story of bogus boxer, Charlie Zelenoff, a wannabe that puts most of the deluded and untalented contestants of the American Idol, X-Factor, and Britain/America’s Got Talent shows right up there with the cream of the showbiz entertainment industry. 

*One of my rare posts that isn’t a book review, short story, or anything else to do with the wonderful world of writing other than a brief reference, so if Boxing isn’t your thing I’ll happily forgive you for scrolling past. Otherwise, sit back, relax, put your feet up, and have a little chuckle while chillin’ with a beer…


Living the Delusion, Pt1 …

Here in the real world

TF1Following Tyson Fury’s dramatic TKO win over Deonte Wilder, boxing is once again dominating the news and media. Everyone from network commentators, former champions, and those still aiming for their shot at Ring Greatness to the seemingly endless legion of armchair experts and Vloggers, they’re all saturating the boxing community, social, and mainstream media with content: if you didn’t already know Deonte Wilder and Tyson Fury’s impressive fight stats, unbeaten records, number of knockouts, and just about everything else right down to what they eat for breakfast and the colour of their underwear, you probably do now.

For Deonte Wilder, those brutal knockdowns will be digitally archived forever, being replayed time and time again. They will be constant reminders of the once formidable man’s emphatic defeat, haunting him just like Muhammad Ali’s ‘Rope-A-Dope’ tactics of the Rumble in the Jungle still do likewise with George Foreman nearly half a century later. TF9b

Let’s not feel too sorry for George though: he sensationally regained his title twenty years later, and, even if he hadn’t, probably made more money from becoming the face of the George Foreman Grille than he ever did from boxing. Whether or not Deonte Wilder achieves the same post-defeat success remains to be seen …

That’s the thing about social media, Google, Wiki, and God knows what else, they put every last detail of our lives just a click away. Venture so much as the most tentative tiptoe step into the world of entertainment, commit some indiscretion in public life, or suffer some slight embarrassment that gets caught on film and before you know it, there’ll be ruddy great size-ten online digital boot-prints of it forevermore.

Therein lies the double-edged sword of social media fame; what seems like a good idea at twenty or thirty often isn’t so great a few years later when you’re applying for a job or trying to explain to your kids why you were once such a total and moronic asshole, something which will later bring us onto the bizarre story of Charlie Zelenoff …



Now, be honest, how many of us haven’t at one time or another imagined ourselves in the shoes of any number of sporting, music, or other iconic figures? Every weekend, millions of us regular mortals trundle down to the local park to play a game of Sunday League footie, our middle-aged footballing prowess on a par with embarrassing dodgy dad dancing, but, nonetheless, imagining Speedbag2ourselves scoring the winning goal in stunning and spectacular ‘Pele’ style fashion. For others, it might be strumming an out-of-tune guitar down the local bar, pub, or club, but enjoying the experience so much that in their head, they’re Jimmy Hendrix headlining Glastonbury.

Returning though to the eventual theme of this blog post, it’ll likely as not be pounding the speedbag at the local gym, all the time secretly wondering what it would be like to be Mike Tyson climbing in the ring at the MGM arena for his umpteenth world heavyweight title defence? But whatever your passion, you get the picture I’m sure …

Now let me say from the start, there’s absolutely nothing with any of the above – it’s as harmless, normal, and innocent as any five-year-old pretending they’re Spiderman, Wonder Woman, or when they’re a bit older, the next winner of American Idol whilst miming with a hairbrush in front of the mirror in their bedroom.

flatcap3For me, my own youthful, sporting, and musical ‘what if’ and ‘what could/might have been’ daydreams have long since given way to more literary ones, though still every bit as fuelled by an over-active imagination as I tap away at my keyboard in the belief I’m writing the next best-seller.

I guess that begs the question, do I ever dream of being the next Stephen King, Lee Child, or Thomas Harris? Hell, yes of course I do, but not to the point where I start Award1mocking up my own imaginary writing awards or membership of non-existent writing organisations just to fuel some daft delusion I’m really in that league let alone convincing anyone else.  Maybe one day, yes, I’d love that, but right now I’m happy to settle for the satisfaction I get from the occasional ‘like’ on a blog post, or better still, a great review on Amazon for one of my books, either of which brightens my day.

FB_IMG_1468795771785Having said that and in common with a certain Charlie Zelenoff I’ll soon be introducing in more detail, I’ll admit I’ve had my pugilistic dreams too; I fought a few regimental and inter-battery bouts in the army and then, years later, reached the dizzy heights of my one and only televised charity fight in the world of White-Collar Boxing: stepping into the ring, spotlights shining on you, and then the cheering spectators, they all amount to one of the most incredible experiences imaginable (even if as in my case it was mostly just a few friends and work pals turning up), so much so that it’s easy to understand the attraction of the reality of such a life or even some social media-fuelled fantasy … speaking of which …


Living the Delusion, Pt2 …

Meet Charlie Zelenoff …

Boxer1Depositphotos_44542883_xl-2015Forget all the unbeaten records, double-figure lists of battered opponents, ninety-five-per-cent knockout rates, and other seemingly impressive fight stats of the WBC, WBO, WBA, IBO, and IBF world champions. Prepare instead to be astounded by the greatest pugilistic genius of them all, and indeed, of all time … meet thirty-two-year-old Charlie ‘the GOAT’ Zelenoff, the undisputed UBF multi-weight world boxing champion with a never before, and likely never to be equalled again, current undefeated fight record of *324-0-0.

TF8*For those unfamiliar with the presentation of boxing stats, that’s 324 wins, no, losses, and no draws. (… and for those that are, no, that’s not a typo, but 324 straight-up wins, and don’t bother trying to work out how someone of that or any age ever managed to accumulate that number of fights, let alone wins, you’ll just give yourself an even bigger headache than the one Tyson gave Deonte in their last fight. And if you’re wondering too what the GOAT nic stand for, it’s … wait for it … (drumroll, please)




* (Charlie’s ‘greatness’ and that ‘unbeaten’ record could be even more impressive by the time you finish reading this blog given that Charlie adds to his ‘Win’ column tally with weekly, daily, and even hourly victories as the mood takes him).


Now, if your initial reaction to Charlie Zelenoff above was ‘What the F***? (and likewise about the UBF given that you’ve probably never heard of either), let me explain. The UBF is the Underground Boxing Federation, a boxing organisation completely of Charlie Zelenoff’s creation and as fictitious as the fake world-title boxing belts he can be seen posing with above. Most (un)impressively though, our Charlie lays claim to an ever-increasing 300 plus unbeaten fight record, albeit as make-believe as pretty much everything else about his practically non-existent bogus boxing career.

In all fairness, I do have to reiterate my use of the word ‘practically’ here, for to dismiss Charlie Zelenoff entirely would be a mistake; this is a man who’s shared a ring with the likes of Deonte Wilder, Floyd Mayweather Sr, and counts Tyson Fury among his greatest fans, admittedly that last little nugget being firmly tongue in cheek. Returning to reality MrBeanthough, Charlie’s ‘actual’ boxing career does fall ‘just a tad short’ of his imagined one, standing as it does according to at 0-1-0, ie, no wins, one loss and no draws on account of being disqualified in his one and only ever officially sanctioned welterweight fight against Andrew Hartley, a boxer whose own fight record credibility of twenty-eight losses out of thirty is on a par with Mr Bean’s likelihood of being cast as the next James Bond.

It’s worth noting here too, Andrew Hartley was considerably shorter than Charlie, and, despite his appalling fight record, in between having to chase Charlie around the ring was beating the shit out of him prior to Charlie’s disqualification for spitting out his mouthpiece (for the third time) towards the end of the first round (for full-fight footage, see 2nd link down at the end… approx 32-36 minutes in).



TF7Now, the thing about our Charlie is that he really believes his own delusional view of himself as the world’s greatest boxer, that belief fuelled by the literally hundreds of sneakily contrived ‘victories’ he’s accumulated over the years – seriously, this guy tots up his wins like a schoolboy accumulating marbles or conker fight scores in the school playground. 

His usual modus operandi is to invite innocent gym-goers around the gyms and studios of West Hollywood to ‘lightly’ spar with him, usually offering some financial incentive to seal the deal. Thinking they’re onto easy money, most agree … and that’s when Charlie shows his true colours: no sooner do they touch gloves, Charlie goes nuts, pounding on his unsuspecting opponent without warning while either his dad or a mate films the encounter. By the time Charlie gets round to posting another ‘boxing win’ on his YouTube channel and elsewhere, the footage will have been edited to show Charlie in the best possible light, and of course, minus the context in which the supposed ‘fight’ actually took place. As an added touch, Charlie also likes to claim most of his opponents are retired US Marines/Special Forces, or some other ex-this, that, or the other to emphasise the scale of his latest win. Naturally, of course, things don’t always go to plan, and the bogus boxing bully sometimes comes a cropper such as when he’s occasionally been stupid enough to take on real boxers (that never ends well, trust me). Mostly though he gets away with what, in reality, are nothing short of criminal assaults; Charlie Zelenoff is quite young, reasonably fit and in shape by the looks of him, and trains regularly in his basement so it’s not as though he doesn’t possess some fighting skills, certainly enough to overcome most unsuspecting opponents with a sneak attack or a ‘sucker’ punch (the latter definitely backfired on Charlie when he tried the ‘sucker’ punch tactic on Floyd Mayweather Sr).  Still, just to stack the odds even further in his favour, another of Charlie’s tricks is to remove most of the stuffing from his gloves prior to a ‘fight,’ thus having the effect of landing his blows with much the same effect as if fighting bare-knuckle … yep, a real piece of work is our Charlie.

On the domestic front, Charlie Zelenoff was at one time supported by his ex-wife, Daria Zelenoff, which in itself is a little odd given that several years ago, Charlie regularly posted genuinely creepy online footage that it was God’s Will for him to marry the love of life, Kim Kardashian, and for her to bear his children (phew, lucky escape there, Kim, lol).

Charlie is also actively encouraged by his father, Eugene Zelenoff, in his strange and bizarre life and boxing ambitions, both often joining Charlie in his online victory celebrations.


To conclude …

Whilst I’ve tried to present an overall picture of bogus boxer, troll, and all-round deluded fantasist, Charlie Zelenoff, I’ve barely touched the surface here. They say a picture paints a thousand words, and if that’s true, then the documentary video of him by Cloud5146 on YouTube (2nd link below) must amount to several volumes of insight into what can only be described as a very strange and disturbed individual, though watching the footage of his father, Eugene, it’s clear where at least some of Charlie’s delusional belief and aggression come from.

It would be too easy to simply dismiss Charlie Zelenoff as a young man with some delusional mental health issues or lacking the usual social skills. In truth, this is a man with quite enough of his wits about him to carefully pick/deceive most of his ‘opponents’ (i.e. mostly victims), then beat the living daylights out of them before posting said assaults online for all the world to see. Watching further footage of Charlie’s online rants also reveals him to be racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and to possess borderline levels of violent aggression, i.e. an all-round nasty piece of work.

Does Charlie need help? Abso-fucking-lutely, yes he does, but with his supposed friends and family encouraging him in his bizarre antics and the local authorities doing nothing, unless the online community shame or deter his behaviour, Charlie Zelenof is going to get himself seriously hurt. I mean, calling up the likes of Deonte Wilder and making racist comments to him before saying equally vile things about his daughter isn’t a recipe for a long and happy life. Neither is sucker-punching a sixty-six-year-old man as he did Floyd Mayweather Sr (among others). Not only that, Charlie bragged about it online and threatened to do the same to Floyd Mayweather Jr, actually threatening to put him in a wheelchair, you know, the real undefeated and possibly one of the best pound-for-pound fighters to have ever lived, I kid you not!

Again, many will argue that Charlie Zelenoff is to be pitied, is in need of psychiatric help, and should not be ridiculed online. Well, if all Charlie was doing was posing in the privacy of his own bedroom with his Toys-R-Us boxing belts, pretending to be the boxing champion of the universe for anyone cares, no one would really give a shit – but that’s far from the case: despite getting the odd battering himself, Charlie launches into some pretty violent and dangerous attacks on innocent people. What if he one day sucker-punches a sixty-six-year-old man who doesn’t possess the defensive skills of Floyd Mayweather Sr and actually kills somebody as he so often brags he’s capable of? 

My advice to Charlie: give up this daft boxing lark, get some psychiatric help, and ffs, don’t post any more bogus fight shit on YouTube.


See/click below for further info/links to the YouTube boxing sensation that is … Charlie ‘the GOAT’ Zelenoff:


Charlie’s own YouTube channel (No, really, don’t laugh) 


Troll Champion: The Charlie Zelenoff story (on YouTube)


Charlie gets schooled by Mayweather Sr & a 16-year-old kid (Ha Ha)


When Charlie met Deonte Wilder (Ha Ha Ha)


Tyson Fury: Charlie’s biggest fan (no, seriously Ha Ha Ha Ha)


Why Write?

Depositphotos_2488689_original typewriter3

Well, what to say here? This is an article I wrote back in 1995 for no other reason than that it was the very first piece of writing I ever had published (3rd prize in a competition for which I was awarded the princely sum of £20). I’ve tidied it up a bit since then, but the text essentially remains the same  


                             Why Write?                                                         


Why Write? An interesting question you might agree, but one with a multitude of answers. The same question could well be asked of those who follow other creative pursuits. What compelled Van Gogh or Gaugin to paint, despite their sufferings, or Beethoven to compose even though he was profoundly deaf? Or, returning to my original question, the Bronte sisters to write when publication seemed an impossible dream? This passionate need for self-expression is in every writer who yearns to achieve authorship as their career. Many of course believe writing to be an easy job with huge financial rewards at the end of it; if money is your sole motivation then you are probably not a born writer. This isn’t to say money should not be a consideration, but its value to many writers is the freedom it allows them to work at what they most enjoy, in their own time and at their own pace. Then, a writer’s intention may merely be to entertain, which is I believe to be an excellent reason for writing; any occupation that brings light relief and enjoyment to so many people is an admirable one. To bring enjoyment to even one person can be a source of profound satisfaction:

rona“One of my greatest rewards came a year or two ago, mailed to me care of my publishers –  an envelope with a Glasgow postmark containing a scrap of paper on which was written very simply, ‘thank you for all the enjoyment your books have given me’.  It bore no address and no signature, and accompanying it was a Scottish pound note. I have never parted with either. That kindly gesture has been kept as a talisman ever since. My only regret is that I have never been able to thank that unknown reader.”

Rona Randell, (authoress)

quillIf, in your own writing, you are fortunate enough to experience such a moment you may well be well on your way to answering the above question. For many though the urge to write is born out of circumstance. One important thing to appreciate is that writing is a solitary and often lonely occupation. This works both ways: writing leads to solitude, but solitude can also lead to writing. It is this last consideration that brings me to my own reasons for writing. It would be untrue to say that I had never wanted to write before a serious accident rendered me housebound for several months, but it was little more than an unconscious desire, submerged for the most part by the many competing attractions and obligations of everyday life, emerging only rarely during moments of quiet solitude, or after having read something particularly enjoyable or inspiring. It was only then I sometimes thought, yes, I’d like to write something like that and to write as well as that! But such occasions are few and far between. For myself it had always been impossible not to allow the pressures of family and everyday life combine to make any serious attempt at writing an impractical, if not impossible dream; perhaps I used this as an excuse, for indeed there are many who overcame such obstacles to realise their dreams, but for me, the constant rationalisation that there was always tomorrow, the day after, or the weekend, to start putting pen to paper, held me back. My own fault I admit. What made me do so was, again, among other things, having read a book that I found particularly enjoyable, Nineteen Eighty-Four if I remember correctly. Upon finishing it I decided I too would like to write something similar (or at least try). Being housebound as I was I felt as trapped and imprisoned as is possible to be short of being a guest of Her Majesty. Ironically though it was those very circumstances that provided the very time and freedom I needed to write – or at least freedom from all the excuses that had fed my past procrastination. Thus finally inspired, my main obstacle was to put down that first word, a daunting prospect for any fledgeling writer. But once you have taken that first step the writing becomes easier. Word follows word, sentence follows sentence, and paragraphs take shape to form chapters until such time as that elusive first poem, article, short story, or even a novel may one day emerge. It may seem ironic, even absurd that such an incapacity might provide one with any kind of freedom, but given the right attitude and self-discipline it can be equally surprising just how conductive a temporary restriction of one’s physical freedoms and mobility can actually be to any new, or even I should imagine an experienced writer. Cut off from many of the distractions of the outside world and pursuits of ordinary life, being housebound encouraged me to call upon the resources of my imagination and experience. One only has to think of those have found themselves truly cut off from the outside world, I speak of course those writers and authors who have for whatever reason begun or continued their writing whilst in prison:  Dostoevsky, Oscar Wilde, Daniel Defoe, and, more recently, the likes of John McVicar, and Jimmy Boyle. Evidently, solitude can be developed into a valuable resource. It can enable one to get in touch with one’s deepest feelings, to form ideas, and encourage the growth of one’s creative imagination, culminating in the elusive ‘written’ word. But what of the benefits of writing? Not the obvious ones of possible fame and fortune, but the more personal, more intimate? During those months of recovery, it would be absurd to suggest that writing in any way changed the physical reality of my situation but it did provide an enjoyable and often fascinating pastime, a marvellous form of escape if you like. It was only when I was alone, with a pen, paper, and a desire to write that I finally produced my first literary efforts. The circumstances were far from ideal but with pen in hand (or fingers on a keypad these days), a few ideas, and a fair degree of imagination, I could be anywhere in the world, create any scenario – an entire world and its characters were there for me to create and immerse myself in. Often I would find myself totally absorbed in what I was trying to say and the struggle involved in trying to transform my thoughts into some form of readable prose. This was not always and indeed still isn’t an easy task. My recovery was slow but nonetheless eventually complete, and my enforced solitude came to an end. It was by no means the ideal milieu for my writing but it was the catalyst for it for which I shall always be grateful. To conclude then, there is no magic formula as to how or why people write. Only you, the writer, can answer that question. And for each of us, I suspect the answer will be different. But whatever the reason, only you can make it happen: imagination, a love of words, creativity, enthusiasm, and the desire to write – those are your tools. All you need is to take the opportunity to use them.

A Cherished Memory & a picture from the past …

This blog post was born out of an idea by Damyanti to host the Cherished Blogfest, an opportunity to discover and CHERISHED1
connect with many of our fellow bloggers. I was happy to agree to co-hosting the project, along with Dan Antion, Peter Nena, and Sharukh Bamboat. The remit was to write a 500 word post about some cherished object or possession we each had. It was hard trying to decide just what to choose, as I’m sure it was for most of us, but in the end I chose something that had a family significance rather than exclusively personal to me.




We all have things we cherish, be it a car we’ve put our heart and soul into restoring and preserving, a piece of jewellery we may have been given by a loved one long, long ago, or perhaps even a keepsake or photo we carry around in our wallet or purse that brings a smile and a happy memory every time we see it. My cherished object though is a drawing – not a valuable piece of art or some daring exploration of pushing the artistic boundaries, but a simple small crayon drawn picture that my son brought home from school over twenty five years ago. It’s of me, my late wife, our son Liam, and of all things, some alien monsters he’d seen in a picture book. It has pride of place just beneath one of my treasured photographs, and is rarely removed from its spot except for the odd dusting or in this instance, to be photographed for my Cherished Blogfest post.

Why does this particular drawing hold such a place in my heart and memories? Well, I think any parent will have half an idea already. I mean, what parent doesn’t possess some treasured item of their children’s childhood, but for me, whenever I glance at this picture it brings back a memory of the day and circumstances when I first saw it. I’d just moved into a new and freshly decorated flat. The front-room was wall-papered but with a waist high white area along the bottom. But to Liam, that shiny white painted area represented an enormous canvas for him to practice his drawing skills on. When I returned home from work I could his see his colourful efforts reaching all the way along from the living room door, stretching behind the sofa that was a foot or so away from the wall, right as far as the glass patio doors. Needless to say I wasn’t amused…

BLOGPIC1“Oh he didn’t mean, he was just playing,” Liam’s grandma said when she saw the less than happy look on my face. “He didn’t know it was naughty to draw on the walls, I’ll have a quiet word later.”

“Didn’t know? So why is he peeking out from behind the sofa with that cheeky grin on his face?” I replied, unconvinced by her defence of the little lad’s artistry, turning my head back in Liam’s direction whose little smiling face was still half peering out from his hiding place. His gran ignored my question, choosing instead to change the subject:

“Oh before I forget, he brought a drawing home for you, it’s on the kitchen table.”

Liam’s smile had grown even bigger and he was nodding his head at the mention of his drawing. I don’t why but my initial anger just disappeared. It was probably the first bit of real mischief and naughtiness he’d gotten into since the death of his mum a year earlier, and for some reason I couldn’t help but give a silent chuckle. Liam still remembered her. My son’s picture was a welcome and timely reminder that life goes on…

Join in the “Cherished” blogfest for 2015…

Blogging for me has opened up a world of writing opportunities, not to mention the joy of making many new writing friends around the world; the “Cherished” blogfest referred to in the title is the brainchild of my fellow blog friend Damyanti, and is a great opportunity to expand your blogging network of friends so please join me and my fellow co-host bloggers: Damyanti Ghosh, Sharukh Bamboat, Dan Antion, Peter Nena.

For anyone new to blogging or not familiar to what a blogfest is, it’s really very simple, well it would have to be for an old codger like me to be taking part – all that’s required is that you write a blog post on a particular date on a particular topic – See below for more details:

The Cherished Blogfest Badge...

The Cherished Blogfest Badge…


The Cherished” Blogfest


For the Cherished Blogfest, we invite you to talk to us about one of your cherished objects. Tell us what it is, post a picture of it if you like, and tell us why you cherish it.

Keep your post to 500 words, and join us on the 24th, 25th, & 26th of July 2015 in sharing memories, emotions, information.

Place the badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media.

Above all, join us in making new connections, and renewing old ones. Sign up in the Cherished Linky List, which would open in a new window.

Some of my fellow co-host bloggers who are already taking part:

Sharukh Bamboat – Sharukh writes a truly fascinating and illuminating travel blog featuring the many different and wonderful attractions of the indian sub-continent. He compliments his writing with some of the most beautiful and stunning photographs you could imagine, along with a host of other multi-media.

Damyanti Ghosh – An established freelance writer/journalist. She is an experienced and well known and established blogger based in Singapore, and the autghor of a book of short stories, The A to Z Stories of Life and Death.

Dan Antion – Dan is a multi-talented blogger that writes about all sorts of things, many of which often centre around his hobbies and life beyond writing and work, such as making things, personal experiences, and often, technical/engineering/science based posts, but all with an endearing and humorous style and perspective along with soime fascination pictures and illustrations to breath added life into his posts.

Peter Nena – Peter is one of the best and most talented short story horror writers I’ve read. His stories are as original as any I’ve read, and definitely not for the squeamish. One of his stories is also featured in my own debut short story anthlogy.


The Cherished Blogfest Badge designed by Dan Antion and the very talented Cheryl KP.

Sign Up in the CHERISHED Linky List below. (It will open in a new window for signup)

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Page Layout and Presentation

With so many bloggers presently taking advantage of the many new self-publishing opportunities now available, I thought it appropriate to reblog this post by another author I discovered by way of my Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group. In addition to being the author of Salby Damned, a well received thriller, Ian D. Moore is also a prolific book reviewer. This post however provides some useful and indeed essential formatting and presentation tips and information for anyone undertaking the publication of an eBook…

Ian D. Moore Author page on Facebook:

The Quill Pen Writes

So, you’re thinking of writing, or you already have. Your document file is your work of art and you’re proud of it right? Have you ever thought of what it will look like say, on a kindle, or on a Kobo tablet, a Hudl perhaps. Do you think it will look the same as the file you sent over? Guess again……………….

When you send your pristine word file over to kindle, they basically meatgrind it to their formatting, what that does is take away some of the things you have specifically entered into your word file such as Italics, certain fonts, and lets say, no spacing before or after speech lines.

Now, I use word 2007 which auto saves in .docx file format, that’s fine for kindle, but for smashwords I can only save in .doc file format so I have to convert my file. I also “write to print”…

View original post 579 more words

Author & Journalist, Ian Probert – Guest Blog


Guardian picFor my first ever guest blog I’m featuring the very talented author Ian Probert. His latest book Johnny Nothing has drawn considerable praise and is available to purchase on Amazon and other outlets at the links below. In addition to being an internationally successful author, Ian Probert is also a highly respected journalist. Ian’s guest blog here is divided into two parts: In the first part we read of the time he met Muhammad Ali, and his astonishment when the The Greatest quite unexpectedly kissed his then girlfriend. In Part two he moves onto a feature on his latest book Johnny Nothing




When The Greatest kissed my girl


It was the third time I’d met him. Well, that’s not strictly true. In reality I’d only met him once before. Met, in the sense of shaking his hand and getting introduced to him. Met, in the sense that he’d spoken to me and I’d actually sat at the dinner table and eaten with him (with a lot of other journalists it has to be said). The second time didn’t really count as a ‘meet’. On that occasion I’d queued at Sports Pages in London along with hundreds of other people hoping to bask in his presence. But then basking in the presence of Muhammad Ali – once the most famous person on planet Earth and arguably the finest boxer ever to lace up the gloves – was usually more than most people could ever hope for.

The year was 1994 and I was standing in the queue outside the Whiteley’s branch of Waterstones waiting for that third meeting. Beside me was my then partner, a good-looking French lawyer named Julie. Behind me was Hugh McIlvaney, the great Scottish sportswriter who had been there to report on some of Ali’s greatest triumphs, not least of which his victory over George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. McIlvaney, despite a career spent travelling the world and meeting and writing about some of sport’s greatest icons, was happy to wait his turn alongside Ali’s fans.

It must have been Ali’s 10-millionth book signing and he was having trouble drumming up any enthusiasm for the occasion. More than that he looked ill. He was hunched over a desk in the middle of the shop, scrawling signature after signature while admirers attempted to catch his attention. ‘You’re the greatest fighter that ever lived,’ most of them said in so many words, and Ali would move his head slowly toward them and nod weakly in agreement. Speech for him seemed impossible. The thousands of punches that Ali took in his career had turned boxing’s finest exponent into its most tragic indictment.

Holding Julie’s hand, the front of the queue grew closer and I found myself not looking forward to what was about to happen. After all, what was to be gained? The Ali whom I loved was the person on TV who danced the shuffle and seemed to defy any logic as he charmed his way through a quite dazzling boxing career. The person sitting before me wasn’t really Ali. He was someone else. He bore no resemblance to the beautiful man who once cradled the planet in his hands.

Now it was our turn. The two of us approached the table nervously. Neither one of really wanted to shove the book we had just bought in front of the great man. But we did. We did because there was nothing else to do. Ali signed his name and passed the book to us. Then – and I don’t really know why I did this – I asked if I could take a picture of him with Julie. Ali looked tired and I immediately felt guilty about asking the question.

Then something remarkable happened.

Ali1Ali slowly rose to his feet. It was painful to observe as the former champion straightened his body and shuffled toward us. Except this was no Ali Shuffle. It was the painful gait of an old man. A large part of me was desperate to look away. Before I could do so, however, Ali climbed on to his toes. Unbelievably, he began to skip and as he did so the years slipped away from him like autumn leaves in the breeze. He threw a few punches into the air and all at once he was the young Cassius Clay, the man who shocked the world by beating Sonny Liston; the man who took on and defeated the parole board.

As we stood there open mouthed, Ali seized the moment and moved over to Julie. Suddenly his arms were around her and he was kissing her. And the kiss was not a peck. The kiss lasted far longer than it should have done. But I was not disturbed by the sight of another man kissing my girlfriend. I was too busy photographing that very long moment.

And then it was over and Ali was back slumped into his seat. Suddenly forty years older. And Julie was looking back at me in shock, her face drained of blood, her lungs of air. My girlfriend had just been passionately kissed by Muhammad Ali! It was only when we got home that Julie confessed that she hadn’t a clue who Muhammad Ali was.




Johnny Nothing

Johnny_Nothing Cover



“Great new kids book alert! My two are in hysterics reading Johnny Nothing by Ian Probert (and I am too).” Jane Bruton, Editor of Grazia

“Oh, Wow! Dark, sordid, grotesque and hilarious are only a few words I can conjure up to describe this hilarious book.” Lizzie Baldwin, mylittlebookblog

Critics are comparing Ian Probert to Roald Dahl. And Johnny Nothing we have a modern successor to Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

Johnny Nothing is best-selling author Ian Probert’s first ever children’s book – although adults are enjoying it too. The story of the poorest boy in the world and the nastiest mother in the universe, the book is earning rave reviews. Children and grown-ups are all laughing at this incredibly funny kids book.

Take a look for yourself:

To celebrate the paperback launch of Johnny Nothing we are offering a free Kindle copy of the book to the first 100 people who Tweet the following message:

@truth42 I’m reading Johnny Nothing by Ian Probert. #YA #Kindle #kidsbooks

The first ten readers who answer the following question will also receive a signed print of one of the book’s illustrations.

Q: What is the tattoo on Ben’s arm?

Send your answers to





Book promo




Twitter @truth42


Author biography

Ian Probert has been scribbling down words ever since he learned to spell the phrase: ‘Once upon a time…’. He is the author of Internet Spy, Rope Burns and a bunch of other titles. Internet Spy was a bestseller in the US and made into a TV film. Rope Burns is a book about why books shouldn’t be written about boxing. Ian has also written things for a shed load of newspapers and magazines. When Ian was a student he used to write lots of letters to the bank manager.



Bill had a shaven head and was wearing a blue tracksuit. He was almost seven feet tall and built like an outdoor toilet made of brick. Bill didn’t realise this but he was a distant descendent of Neanderthal Man. He had only one eyebrow – one long bushy eyebrow that reached right across his forehead. He looked like what you might get if you force fed a member of Oasis with a half-tonne black plastic sackful of steroids.

And if you were brave enough to be present when he took off his tracksuit you would discover that his back was so covered in hair that he was able part it with a comb. If Bill had had more of an interest in fashion, he might even have considered giving it a curly perm and perhaps a few extensions

29 Bill_BenOn his right arm, Bill had a tattoo which simply read ‘Bill’. This was in case he woke up one morning and forgot who he was. This was actually less unlikely than you might imagine because standing next to him was his twin brother. His name was Ben and he was identical to Bill in every way except that the tattoo on his arm read ‘Bin’ (the tattooist was either South African or not a very good speller). He was wearing a red tracksuit.

Bill gave Mr. and Mrs. MacKenzie the tiniest of smiles and managed to grunt ‘hello’. Ben gave the couple exactly the same tiniest of smiles and also managed to grunt ‘hello’.

13d JohnnyThe two men were standing protectively close to Johnny. They were so large that in the confines of Johnny’s bedroom they looked like giants, which they were. They were so enormous that each of them had their own postcode. They were so gigantic that they had their passport photos taken by satellite. They were so humungous that you could spend all day thinking up rubbishy jokes about how big they were and never adequately describe just how indescribably, earth-shatteringly ENORMOUS they were. By no stretch of the imagination could you call them small (unless, of course, you were a lot bigger than them).

The pair of Goliaths were having to stoop slightly so as to avoid head-butting the ceiling, which actually even looked a little scared itself. They were a terrifying sight. Even scarier than a school trip to a Weight-Watcher’s nudist camp.

There was a long, pregnant silence in the room like this:

This eventually gave birth to an even longer post-natal silence, which, in the interest of preserving the rain forests or the battery on your Kindle, I shan’t demonstrate.

The four grown-ups eyed each other nervously. Bill and Ben looked at the Mackenzies like they were looking at insects that could be squashed into pulpy insect juice any time they so desired.

The Mackenzies looked at Bill and Ben like they were looking at two giant skinhead Neanderthal bully boys who had just appeared from nowhere in their recently and unexpectedly decorated council flat.

Johnny looked a little scared.

Finally Billy Mackenzie managed to get his mouth working a little and spluttered: ‘Who are you?’ And then: ‘What do you want?’

There was another long silence – let’s call it a pause – while Bill and Ben looked at each other as if trying to decide who was going to answer. Finally Bill spoke: ‘You the boy’s parents?’ he demanded in a voice that sounded like an angry rhino with horn-ache. Although if he was clever enough he would have realised that this was a rhetorical question.

There was yet another long silence (you’ll be relieved to hear that this is the last silence you’re going to get in this chapter) before Billy Mackenzie mumbled ‘Yes’.

‘We’re Johnny’s bodyguards,’ continued Bill. ‘We’re here to make sure that everything’s hunky dory.’

‘Hunky dory?’ Mrs. Mackenzie suddenly found her voice. ‘What do you mean ‘hunky dory”?’

Now Ben spoke: ‘What my brother means to say,’ he explained. ‘Is that we’ve been – how shall I say – contracted – to make sure that this young feller’s affairs are in order.’

‘Get out of my house!’ interrupted Mrs. Mackenzie, suddenly feeling a little braver, although she had no idea why.

Bill and Ben looked at each again for a moment. They did this almost as much as your mum looks in the mirror. Or you dad looks at websites that he shouldn’t be looking at. ‘First of all,’ said Bill, ‘This isn’t a house – it’s a flat.’

‘And second of all,’ said his brother. ‘We ain’t going nowhere. And neither are you.’

‘Johnny who are these men?’ Mrs. MacKenzie asked her son, ignoring the two giants.

‘I’m sorry mum but…’ Johnny started to speak but Bill cut in like a pair of scissors that chops sentences into bits.

‘…What the young feller means to say is that the fun’s over.’

‘The fun’s over?’ repeated Felicity MacKenzie numbly.

‘That’s right,’ continued Ben. ‘You’ve had a right old time. You’ve been spending his money like it’s your own. You’ve been ripping the poor young feller off. And we’re here to put a stop to it. From now on things are gonna be different.’

‘I’ve had enough of this,’ said Mrs. MacKenzie. ‘Nobody speaks to me like this in my house…’

‘Flat,’ corrected Ben.

‘Nobody speaks to me like this in my flat. Billy, call the police!’

As usual Billy MacKenzie did as he was told. He reached into his pocket for his mobile phone. Before he had the chance to even turn it on the gigantic frame of Bill was towering over him.

‘That an iPhone?’ asked Ben.

‘Erm… Yes,’ said Billy, who could only watch as the huge man took it from him and with one hand crushed it into a chunk of buckled metal and shattered touch screen.

‘I think it’s broken,’ said Ben. ‘You ought to take it back to the Apple store. Tell ‘em that you’re not getting a decent signal.’

‘Right!’ cried Mrs. MacKenzie. ‘We’re leaving! You’ll be very sorry you did that. I’ll fetch the police myself!’

Now the giant frame of Bill was standing in front of her. He was holding something in his hand that looked a little like a child’s toy space gun.

‘Know what this is?’ he asked. Although once again he wasn’t clever enough to recognise that this was a rhetorical question.

Mrs. Mackenzie regarded the object for a moment. Then she shook her head. Whatever it was she guessed that it was not intended to provide pleasure, happiness or fulfilment. Anything that has a trigger and a barrel and goes ‘bang!’ seldom does.

‘Come on Billy!’ she said. ‘We’re leaving!’

Bill stood in front of her blocking the doorway. ‘Not so fast,’ he said, not so slowly. ‘It’s called a Taser. See this little trigger at the front? If I press this it’ll give you a small electric shock. It won’t hurt you…Well not too much anyway.’

Bill raised the object and gently touched Mrs. MacKenzie on the arm. There was a loudish bang and a flash of blue neon light and Mrs. MacKenzie collapsed groaning to the floor. She was conscious but wasn’t able to move her arms and legs

‘Oh my gawd!’ said Billy Mackenzie bravely charging out of the room in terror. He got as far as the stairs before there was a second flash. He, too, crumpled to the floor. Bill dragged him back into the bedroom by the scruff of his neck.

03b  JohnnyJohnny Nothing got to his feet and stood over his two parents. He looked anxious. ‘Are they… Are they… OK?’ he gasped.

‘Don’t you worry yourself,’ smiled Ben. ‘Give em a few minutes and they’ll be right as rain.’

‘But they’ll think twice before they try to run off again,’ said his brother.


04a Uncle Marley 06a Organist 07 Vicar 12c Felicity 14 Kiss copy 36 Reporter 33 Tramp 32 God


Authors helping authors…

As some of you may have noticed that apart from my recent review of a short story, I’ve been somewhat quiet on the reviewing and blogging front. Without going into specifics, some health concerns have diverted my attention elsewhere over the past few months but am happy to say I’ll now be returning more of my attention and efforts to one of my enjoyable pastimes, namely that of writing and reviewing.

Book reviews, particularly for the Indie and self-published author are the lifeblood of such writers, but for the relatively unknown or debut author, such reviews can be frustratingly elusive. As we all know, there are already numerous review exchange groups on Fb, many of which list their numbers in the thousands, but with such numbers posts are often consigned to history as minutes later endless more requests and posts are made before they can be responded to.

I know many authors who are only too happy to read and review other’s work, and with this in mind I’ve recently created a second WordPress blog, and an accompanying Fb group of the same name. Where I hope to be more effective than some of the other online equivalents, is by deliberately keeping the two smaller in membership, and with the accompanying wordpress blog there will be no reason for book links to be lost amid a plethora of subsequent Fb posts, enabling members to browse at their leisure other member’s books listed on the different ‘Genre’ Pages on the Wp site and if they wish, they can contact them via the accompanying Fb group.

I will still continue to post book reviews and the occasional short story, articles, and other miscellaneous posts and reblogs here on echoesofthepen, but I’ve quoted below from the About page my other new blog some further explanation as to why I’ve created these additional sites… I hope some of you will find them useful…


I’ve created the Indie Author Review Exchange WordPress site and its sister Facebook group of the same name (see links at bottom of page) to promote mutual support among independent writers and authors by way of reading and providing honest and informative reviews of each other’s books. It’s all too easy to assume that a great book will be widely read and reviewed on it’s merits alone, but unfortunately, being a good writer doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with being a good marketeer, promoter, or publicist, and for that reason, I believe a lot of very good books aren’t getting the attention and readership they deserve. My hope is that as the number of members grows, that each member will read and review other members’ books, as well as passing on recommendations for other independently published books they may have read.

If as a member of the accompanying Fb group, you feel your book doesn’t fit into any of the genres listed, please email me with a suggestion for a new category for it to be included in (email listed in pinned post in Fb group). Likewise to other authors who blog on wordpress and elsewhere, feel free to take a look at our Fb group to see if you’d be interested in joining for inclusion on this site too.

In addition, there will be links and reblogs of many other Wp bloggers, book reviewers, and shortlyn in the near future, a Resources for Writers page (listed under Categories on right hand side) with links to various other sites, blogs, and posts that might be of use to aspiring writers and authors, and secondly, another page with links to various publishing sites that may prove useful…


Book Reviews




Resource ideas for Writers

I’ve never actually reblogged a post before but I have this one as I genuinely believe it’s a great initiative and idea. As well as showcasing one’s own writing efforts, blogging is very much about helping and encouraging one another, and a relevant and well researched list of writer’s resources/books might prove an invaluable help and so really appeals to me…

Tom Benson - Creative

Who might benefit from this post?

Anyone who writes poetry, flash fiction, short stories, novels, articles, letters … well, you get the idea. If fellow readers and writers respond, we will all benefit.


Why am I initiating this now?

I haven’t done a writing course. I learned through experience how to build my collection of resource, or reference books, and I’d like to help other writers by suggesting a simple list of books. It may be that some writers don’t feel they need them all, but having a proposed selection is always a good thing. After reading this post, you might like to join the team; let’s work together and help each other to succeed.

What is it about?

It’s about resource, or reference. Yes, of course we can all use the Internet. How about that occasion when the link is down, or you want to be away from…

View original post 364 more words

Publishing Sites… Pt1.

This particular post is somewhat of a diversion from my usual stories and book review posts.

Many of the bloggers on WordPress, though by no means all, are new and aspiring writers, debut & self-published authors, poets, and writers of short and flash fiction stories covering many different genres. What I’ve tried to do here is compile a list and brief resume of some of the online publishing sites I’ve come across in my reading and researches. I won’t pretend to have personal experience of any of these sites, but all of  have been reviewed in various writing magazines and other places; some of them are indeed WordPress blogs as well, and it is up to the reader to judge for themselves the individual merits of each one.

Whilst I honestly doubt publication on any of the following will automatically lead to literary fame and fortune, just as it doesn’t even with the more traditional publishing houses, but anything that leads to a wider reading audience and public awareness of one’s writing might well be a first step on the way…

I hope some of you who read this posting and look at any of the sites listed find the success you are looking for and deserve. This is just a very small sample of the publishing resources out there, and if any readers discover new ones not listed here please drop me a line so that I might add them. Likewise, the web being what it is, if any of these links should become inactive, feel free to let me know also. Thanks…

This is a simple website that runs a number of flash fiction and short story writing competitions. There are also links to a number of other useful websites for aspiring writers. Fish publishing also produces an annual anthology of winning stories, memoirs, flash fiction, and poetry. 


Shock Totem: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted, is US based, and is published twice yearly as a high quality print digest magazine, and is pretty much dedicated to horror and dark fantasy, including mystery, suspense, supernatural, morbid humour, and fantasy.

As well as short stories (up to 5000 words), and flash fiction (up to 1000 words), and micro-fiction (up to 200 words), shock totem also accepts non-fiction pieces (up to 2,500 words) on topics such as disease, poverty, horror, and dark fantasy.

To see their full submission guidelines go to:


This is a US based small press for electronic publication via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. They invite submissions for novellas (15,000 – 40,000 words) in the following genres: horror, erotic horror, dark crime, and fantasy.

To see their full submission guidelines go to:


Not So Noble Books, is, to quote them, ‘an independent publisher of e-books that don’t conform.’

They publish exclusively on Amazon. Although they mainly publish books that would not normally be accepted by mainstream publishers, books as they put it, that don’t conform or necessarily fit in with mainstream categories, they are also willing to accept unsolicited manuscripts in the mainstream genres of: romance, thriller, horror, and others (inquire with them directly).

They will also look at short stories, but generally prefer full-length fiction.

As well as fiction they also publish a few academic and philosophical titles.

To see their full submission guidelines go to:


Park Publications publish a quarterly short story print magazine called SCRIBBLE, featuring short stories, competitions, writing articles, and reader feedback letters.

They accept stories of up to 3000 words in the genres of horror, humour, Sci-Fi, supernatural, contemporary stories, and ‘women’s fiction.

Submissions are free for subscribers, and an entry payable for non-subscribers.

To see their full submission guidelines go to:

timthumb (1)   timthumb (2)

Read short fiction is an online short story magazine publishing: action/adventure, humour, literary, mainstream, romance, horror, paranormal, and Sci-Fi (but no erotica).

Submissions should be between 1,500 and 4,000 words.

To see their full submission guidelines go to:


This is US based website that publishes a free Sci-Fi / Fantasy story each day.

They are looking for Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories from 100 to 10,000 words, and are especially interested in flash fiction pieces of up to 1000 words.


They do not accept stories that are already posted on the writer’s personal website or blog.

To see their full submission guidelines go to:

sporepress3 sporepress2 sporepress4

This is a US based small independent online publishing company offering books in both print and e-book formats, available via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Spore Press specializes in BioSciFi, i.e. biologically themed science fiction, genetic engineering/societies (see website for more details).

Spore Press also has a secondary imprint, namely Argenta Books

(See, which publishes in general fiction.

To see their full submission guidelines go to:

News, information and guides to independent bookstores, independent publishers, literary magazines, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative news weeklies, and host of others…

Information on this site includes links to creative writing courses, sites calling for submissions, writing contests, book review sites, writing conferences, and too many others to list here…

From Utne magazine: “, the best overall internet portal to the alternative press, independently organizes pages of links to hundreds of magazines, independent publishers and bookstores, literary magazines, newsweeklies, and review sources. also publishes unique book zine reviews, and an interesting web-log broadly covering the world of arts, publishing, and libraries.”

30__DSL1048.jpg entrsnced3

This is a US based digital publisher specializing in YA (young adult), NA (new adult), and romance. They also accept Sci-Fi, fantasy, and urban fantasy providing they contain a strong romantic element to them.

They publish 3-4 titles per month.

They are looking for YA and NA submissions of between 50,000 – 90,000 words.

Other submissions of 10,000 words for novellas and 120,000 words for novels.

To see their full submission guidelines got to:

interzone1  interzone2  interzone3  interzone4  interzone5

TTA Press is a UK based publisher, and publishes Interzone, Britain’s longest running Science Fiction & Fantasy magazine, as well as two other publications, Black Static, magazine concentrating on horror, and Crimewave, which is published twice a year as an American Royal paperback

They are now accepting submissions via their webpage.

They also publish a small but growing number of books, including novels, anthologies, collections, and the ongoing TTA Novellas.

To see their full submission guidelines got to:

FM2  FM3

This is a US based company specializing in a range of online magazines sold via Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and via the company’s own website.

They accept submissions of the following:

Book Reviews (800 – 1000 words)

Efiction – contemporary literary fiction

Sci-Fi & Fantasy short stories

Serial Fiction, poetry, and a various other genres…

Due to the various magazines they offer, submission guidelines vary slightly for the different magazines so it’s important to take a close look at their submission guidelines.

To see their full submission guidelines go to:


Gloomcupboard is an online litzine that accepts:


Fiction (under 2,500 words preferred)

Flash fiction (up to 500 words)

Creative non-fiction (memoirs/personal essays – under 200 words preferred)

Book Reviews (of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction) .


To see their full submission guidelines go to:

This is a new journal of poetry and short prose. It publishes three times a years in both print and electronic format.

They are accepting submissions of:

Poetry (shorter poetry preferred but not essential)

Prose (up to 750 words).

To see their full submission guidelines go to:

Slice-issue14-cvr-v2b  slice2

This is a US based biannual non-profit print literary magazine.

They accept submissions from both new and established writers.

Categories for submission are:

Short fiction, non-fiction, and poetry (maximum word count of 5,000 words)

To see their full submission guidelines go to:


They are most interested in the following for submission:

Full length fiction

Short story fiction

Historical fiction and non-fiction

Informational / Business / How-to


Also take a look at the LitBits tab on their website for further details of short story submissions.

To see their full submission guidelines go to:


Note:  As well as posting this here, because I intend to update and add to these sites on a monthly basis, I shall be adding this post to a page of its own (Online Publishing Sites) on my blog as a permanent reference point –

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