2021? BRING IT ON, BABY!

What can we say about 2020? Well, to quote my favourite self-published author*…

Of course, the Coronavirus pandemic has changed – and will continue to change – Everything As We Know It. But I’m not going to talk about that here today; you can read more about that…

Well, pretty much everywhere, as it turns out.

As I look back over the year here at HTWGS.com, I see there were a few wins…

BUT…

What I DIDN’T do in 2020 was finish my second, more autobiographical HowToWinGameShows.com eBook: Tales From The Shiny Floor. I’m so sorry about that. I know I promised it ages ago. Next year, for sure.

I’m afraid that this year, all my authoring and self-publishing energy was devoted to getting my first novel Symphony Under Siege out into the world. But now that’s done, and out there, I can turn my attention to delivering on my promise to you.

And speaking of Promise… I hope that, wherever you are, 2021 fulfils its promise to you.

I hope it’s a safer, saner, healthier and kinder year than 2020. In short, I hope that 2021 is better than 2020. (Let’s face it – it couldn’t be much worse…)

But whatever 2021 may bring, I’d just like to take this opportunity now to thank you so much once again for your support of this site, and wish you and yours a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

See you next year!

Stephen.

* Did you know that Charles Dickens actually self-published A Christmas Carol (one of his biggest hits)?

Well, he did. And I’ve always found that fact (along with the fact that he wrote most of his novels in serialised form, publishing the chapters in monthly magazines before officially publishing the full bound volumes) profoundly inspirational.

(Because… you know… that’s what I did.)

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Me as Darius Horsham / The Ghost of Christmas Present from ‘Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell: Pagan Holiday Special’ (Now streaming on ABC iView!)

Hello! As per the headline above, I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish you all the Compliments of the Season.

As we all stagger towards the end of this disastrous and tragic year, I fervently hope you can find some solace and contentment in the company of family and friends, either in person, or remotely. Love doesn’t quite conquer all, but I believe it’s the best weapon we’ve got.

I thank you for your support. And after whatever hardships or challenges you’ve experienced this year – and we’ve all experienced some – I bring you tidings of comfort and joy.

Comfort and joy.

Tidings of comfort and joy.

Sending love.

Stephen.

Okay, so this isn’t strictly about game shows, but it IS about games…

There’s a wonderful BBC4 podcast that I subscribe to, called The Infinite Monkey Cage. It’s hosted by the physicist Brian Cox and the comedian Robin Ince, and it aims to make a wide variety of science subjects accessible and entertaining. The show’s always educational, often very funny, and I’d highly recommend it to… well, to pretty much anyone who has any curiosity whatsoever about the universe.

This recent episode was all about games and the science behind them. I found it interesting, informative and amusing, and I wanted to share it with you.

You’re welcome.

Here’s the detailed description of this episode, from its website:

How To Beat The House And Win At Games.
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by mathematicians Hannah Fry and Alex Bellos, psychologist Richard Wiseman and games enthusiast Helen Zaltzman, to get their top tips for winning games and solving puzzles. Do mathematicians make better Poker players, or is psychology the key to the ultimate poker face? Will a knowledge of probability give you the ultimate winning strategy for your next game of Monopoly? (the answer is yes!). How old are the oldest puzzles, and why do they involve wolves and cabbages? And how have puzzles involving wolves, cabbages and bridges resulted in the development of whole new branches of mathematics? 

Enjoy!

AAaaaand that’s all for this week. See you next time,

Stephen

Today is LAUNCH DAY!

IT’S HERE!

My science fiction adventure novel Symphony Under Siege is finally, finally here!

It’s an eBook,

It’s now LIVE on Amazon all over the world, and

It’s $4.99.

The cover of my debut novel ‘Symphony Under Siege’!

And I’m a little bit excited. Can you tell?

May 17th, 2019 – when I published the very first chapter online – seems like a lifetime ago now. Since I finished that rough first draft on May 8th this year, I’ve cut and edited and polished and tweaked and re-arranged and re-ordered the thing to within in an inch of its life. The 310-page Amazon eBook I’m launching today is the end product.

I’m equal parts nervous and excited about sending my brainchild out into the world. All I can do is spread the word and hope for the best, I suppose! To give you an idea of what the story’s about, here’s the book description (aka its blurb):

512 YEARS IN THE FUTURE.

NOT YOUR TYPICAL THURSDAY MORNING.

FIVE CENTURIES FROM NOW, EX-NAVY OFFICER DIANA SINGH COMMANDS THE MONUMENTAL LUXURY SPACELINER THE SYMPHONY OF THE STARS. NONE OF HER CREW KNOWS THAT THEIR SHIP IS SMUGGLING A TREASURE WORTH MILLIONS.

NONE OF THEM KNOWS WHICH ONE OF THEM IS THE SERIAL KILLER.

AS CAPTAIN SINGH PILOTS THE MIGHTY CRUISE SHIP BACK TO BASE, SHE RACES TO UNMASK THE MURDERER IN THEIR MIDST BEFORE THEY CAN KILL AGAIN.

SO, NOT THE MOST CONVENIENT TIME TO BE ATTACKED BY PIRATES…

“I AM CAPTAIN SALAZAR SHARP, HERE TO CLAIM WHAT IS WRONGFULLY MINE!” FOR THE FLAMBOYANT LEADER OF THE PIRATES, INFILTRATING THE SYMPHONY IS A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY.

BUT THE SECRET TREASURE THAT COULD MAKE HIM AND HIS CREW FILTHY RICH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING; HIS ULTIMATE GOAL IS A FAR GREATER PRIZE…

SYMPHONY UNDER SIEGE IS A WITTY SCI-FI ADVENTURE PACKED WITH HEROIC EXPLOITS, TWISTS AND TURNS, NAIL-BITING CLIFFHANGERS AND DARING ESCAPES.

IF YOU LIKE ROLLICKING, FAST-PACED SCI-FI WITH A SENSE OF HUMOUR, THEN YOU’LL LOVE THIS EXUBERANT DEBUT NOVEL FROM VETERAN TV COMEDY WRITER STEPHEN HALL.

BUY SYMPHONY UNDER SIEGE TODAY, AND GET ON BOARD THE ADVENTURE!

And that’s it for today. No game show related news, I’m afraid – this has pushed it all off the front page.

When I return, though, I will get back on topic. I promise.

Cheers,

Stephen

 

My public promise to you (and to me, now that I think about it…)

This is the cover image for my forthcoming novel ‘Symphony Under Siege’.

Just a quick one today, and it’s quite off-topic, but if you’d be kind enough to indulge me…

As you may recall, five months ago I finished the first draft of my first novel, by writing a new chapter each week, and posting it online every Friday at midday.

This was because I’d publicly promised to do that, way back in March last year.

Well, the whole making-a-public-promise-with-definitive-timeframes-built-into-it method proved to be really effective for me, because

I Got The Thing Done.

I always seem to be more motivated by an external deadline (even if it’s one I’ve made up). If I hadn’t imposed those deadlines – for which I had to be publicly accountable – I’d probably still be faffing around on Chapter 3 today.

And so, bearing that in mind, I just wanted to hereby make this SOLEMN VOW to you, my dear, beloved, pretty and fragrant visitors to HowToWinGameShows.com….

Yep, fair enough.

… That my debut novel Symphony Under Siege will be launched – initially as an eBook – on Amazon.com, on

TUESDAY DECEMBER 1ST, 2020.

(DEEP BREATH) And now that I’ve made that promise to you…

I HAVE to keep it. 

So that leaves me with 49 days to finish all the editing, cover design, formatting, submitting and all the other million little things that need to be taken care of.
49 days? Lordy! I’d better get back to it, then.

Until next time (when I promise I will return to game show-related content here)

Stay Well, Stay Safe… and Stay Home!
P.S. If you’re interested in receiving updates on the novel’s progress, please consider joining the mailing list I’ve set up especially for that purpose. Cheers!

The Lost Episodes have been found.

Hello! Today I bring news of a little episode of fortuitous archaeology… the two Lost Episodes of my 2005 run on Temptation have finally, finally, finally been UNEARTHED.

No, they weren’t in this trunk.

For some reason, I never got recordings of these two episodes at the time. I have vague memories of my Mum not recording them because she thought my Mother-In-Law was recording them, and my Mother-In-Law not recording them because she thought my Mum was recording them… but I could be mistaken about all that. But, hey – why I didn’t diligently record all seven episodes, I’ll never know. Or maybe I did, but never labelled them properly, and the tapes got lost…

Aaanyhoo, after all seven shows had gone to air and the dust had settled, I found that I only had copies of Episode 1 (which aired on Tuesday 16/08/05), Episode 2 (Wednesday 17/08/05), Episode 3 (Thursday 18/08/05), an incomplete version of Episode 4 (Friday 19/08/05, missing the last minute or so), and Episode 7 (Wednesday 24/08/05).

For fifteen years – FIFTEEN YEARS, do you hear me? – I’ve been missing Episode 5 (Monday 22/08/05) and Episode 6 (Tuesday 23/08/05). I’ve not seen them since they went to air back then, and all the subsequent efforts I’ve made to track them down over the years – including enquiring in at Channel 9’s archives – have proved 100% totally and utterly fruitless. As a Collector and a Completist, not possessing those two episodes has ever-so-slightly niggled at me for all this time…Until now.

A few weeks ago, during a chat with my very dear friend Gavin (who also happens to be a former Temptation contestant), he mentioned that he’d recorded those episodes back then… and that he still had them! I could scarcely believe it. I’d well and truly given up hope that I’d ever find them again. I asked him if I could borrow the VHS tapes, he instantly said ‘yes’ – because he’s a very nice bloke – and I got them digitised. Then I edited out the ads, uploaded them to the HowToWinGameShows.com Facebook page… and here we are, the set is complete! Thanks to Gavin, I’ve also been able to put together a new, complete version of Episode 4, with that pesky missing final minute now restored. 

Okay

So

Yes. It turns out that there actually wasn’t an enormous amount of Dogged Diligent Investigation and Bold Intrepid Adventuring from me, after all.

… Despite that, I still do like dressing up as Indiana Jones. Don’t judge me.

You can watch the episodes via their links above. The shows may be old, but I think they still pack a punch. As Dr Jones might say…

Enjoy!

 

As always, I claim no copyright in, or ownership of, the clips referenced in this post, and no copyright infringement is intended by linking to them. If you have reason to believe any material has been used in an unauthorized manner, please do let me know.

So anyway, I did ‘Sleep At The G’… But I also didn’t.

Sorry folks, but it’s another non-game-show-related one today. You may recall that a little while ago, I mentioned that I was planning to do the Sleep At The G, to help raise funds to combat youth homelessness….

Well, back on Thursday May 21st, I did.

In a manner of speaking.

You see, due to the cancellation of the physical event, I decided that on the night, I’d still sleep outside… but instead of doing it at the MCG, I’d do it on my front porch.

My bed for the night. Yes, I know it’s undercover, but it’s still technically outside. Don’t @ me.

A relatively cold night was forecast: overcast with some rain, getting down to a minimum of 9 degrees at around 4 AM. I made sure I was well covered – long johns, thick socks, jeans, T-shirt, jumper, jacket, scarf, beanie – and set up a Zoom connection with my good friend Tim, who was taking part in the event with me.

Ready to go. Let’s do this.

It was so great to have Tim “there”, and a few other friends also joined us on the call, offering their support. I found myself appreciating – yet again – how lucky we are to live in this age, when we can all stay connected virtually, if not physically.

Imagine getting through the pandemic without that…

After the call ended, I settled down, to try and get some sleep. My various layers of protection generally stood me in good stead; it was only the coldness of my face (and nose, in particular) that seemed to repeatedly stop me from nodding off.

It got colder, and then it got colder again.

And then it started to rain.

So… is this the fun part?

Eventually (no idea what time) I did finally manage to get some shuteye… And I’m pleased to report it was relatively uninterrupted shuteye, at that!

This is obviously a re-enactment. I’m just pretending to be asleep here. (Well, somebody had to take the selfie, didn’t they?)

When I was woken by the sunrise, I felt sure I’d got a lot more sleep than I did on this night last year, at the actual MCG.

Morning has broken.

Recently in our street, a couple of cars have been broken into…. so when, at around 6 AM, I heard someone get into a car, start it up, and drive off quite quickly, I instinctively sprang up and and dashed out the front, to see if it was ours.

It wasn’t.

And so, after that mild shock, I was now fully prepared to get up and at ’em, and start the day; bright-eyed and bushy-tailed…

… And fresh as a frickin’ daisy.

Reflecting, once again, on how lucky I am to have a home to go to. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Again, I’d like to thank everyone who sponsored me. I understand and appreciate how uncertain things are at the moment, financially, so your support really is very much appreciated. Together, you’ve raised $177.21 to help combat youth homelessness.

And if you’re reading this and you’d like to add to that total… you still can! At https://sleepatthegcommunity2020.everydayhero.com/au/stephen

==================================================================

Next week, I’m really pleased to be bringing you a brand new two-part guest post from our Canadian friend – and game show contestant, host and aficionado – Ryan Vickers.

And hey, if YOU’d ever like to write a guest post for HowToWinGameShows.com – just like Ryan has – I’m always open to the idea.

Just drop me a line at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com and let’s talk!

Hey, whaddaya know? I’m a novelist! (kinda…)

Hello! I’m afraid I’m going off on another non-game show related tangent again this week… (we’ll get to the end of the Mark Humphries interview next week, I promise!) … but this sort of thing doesn’t happen every day.

As I may have mentioned before, last year, I decided to finally make a serious attempt at writing my first novel. Like many people, I’d been wanting to write a novel for many years, but I never wanted to be one of those people that just leaves it at that.

So, last May, in an effort to keep myself focussed, on track, and accountable to this big goal, I broke it down into a series of smaller goals. Namely, I resolved to write one chapter of the novel every week for 52 weeks, posting a new chapter online – here – each Friday at noon.

And now, one year later, it’s done. Admittedly, it’s only a first draft, and I do have an awful lot of editing ahead of me, but the 52 chapters of the novel have now been written. It’s a rollicking, swashbuckling, science fiction, space pirate adventure, and I’m calling it:

It’s a project that’s obviously been occupying my mind a lot over the past year, and reaching the end of it (or the end of the first phase of it, anyway) seemed to me to be something worth celebrating. So, you know…

Cheers!

Quite apart from anything else, the whole endeavour was a valuable learning experience. And it did remind me of that really important life lesson – which I think also applies to ANY game show related quest (at last, he’s stumbled back on to what this blog is supposed to be about)… if a goal is daunting, break it down in to smaller goals. Then you’ll achieve them, one small step at a time… and before long, odds are you’ll glance back over your shoulder and be amazed at how far you’ve come.

Sure, this may seem only tangentially related to getting on game shows and winning them, but I have written about this on the blog before, and I really believe it bears repeating – it’s such a powerful idea.

And speaking of game shows (about time, too!) next week, I’ll see you back here for the conclusion of my epic interview with Pointless host Mark Humphries.

But before that (this Thursday, in fact) I’ll be doing the Sleep at the ‘G (at home), to raise funds to help homeless youth. I’m very aware that times are tough, but if you are able to help out by sponsoring me, for any amount, it would be deeply, deeply appreciated.

The link to the page where you can do that is: https://sleepatthegcommunity2020.everydayhero.com/au/stephen

or you can simply click HERE.

Thank you so much!

Off on a tangent, for a very good cause…

And now, from our ItAllSeemedMuchMoreFeasibleWhenISignedUpForItBackInEarlyMarch Department….

Something a little bit different this week. I want to tell you about something I’ll be doing soon, and invite you to consider me helping out, if there’s any chance you’re able to.

In a few weeks (actually on Thursday, May 21st, to be precise), I’ve signed up to “Sleep at the ‘G“, to help raise funds to combat youth homelessness.

This is an annual event organised by Melbourne City Mission, who do great work in this area. It involves spending the night at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the “G”), and sleeping on its concrete floors in a sleeping bag, with only a collapsed cardboard box for a “mattress”. I took part last year, and although it could never equal the experience of sleeping rough on a regular basis, it gave me a much better understanding – and a deeper appreciation for – some of the hardships suffered by the many (far too many) people who find themselves homeless.

I’ve enrolled again this year, but as you’ve probably guessed, the event (which requires thousands of people to congregate in one place overnight) won’t be taking its usual form this time. All the sponsorship and fundraising pages are still open, and the ‘Sleep at the G’ folks still need donations. Perhaps now more than ever – as you can imagine, homelessness and COVID-19 are a deadly serious combination.

So I’ve decided that if I can’t sleep outside at the G on May 21st, the least I can do is sleep outside at home on that night. I’ll be out in our backyard in a sleeping bag, again with a cardboard “mattress”, and if there’s any chance you’re able to sponsor me or make a donation…. well, that would be wonderful. Of course, I don’t yet know what the weather will be like on that night, but last year it was frickin’ freezing!

As per last year, I have a fundraising page set up right here.

(The full URL is https://sleepatthegcommunity2020.everydayhero.com/au/stephen),

Every little bit really does count.

I will be posting some pictures up here after I’ve done it…

A) to prove that I have done it, and

B) to bring you a little bit of schadenfreude, to brighten your day.

… and that’s it for this week! Thanks for your time, and I’ll see you back here next week, with the next instalment of my exclusive interview with game show host Mark Humphries!

Until then, then.

 

Seven years old today!

Well, here we are at the seven year mark!

When I nervously started HowToWinGameShows.com, way back in 2013, I really wasn’t sure if there would be enough material on this subject to sustain a blog like this for any reasonable length of time. As it turns out, I kinda think there has been.

I’ve done 327 posts over the past seven years (this being my 328th), and interviewed loads of game show contestants, game show winners, game show producers, question writers… and hosts! I hope you’ve managed to glean some useful information from our discussions.

I’ve reviewed various books and TV shows (there are more of these reviews to come!), and I’ve related many behind-the-scenes experiences from the various game shows I’ve worked on. There are more of these on the way, too!

Along the way, I’ve written my first book – the cryptically titled How To Win Game Shows – and self-published it on Amazon. All of which was quite a learning curve in and of itself. As I’ve mentioned here before, a second HTWGS book is on the way, and my goal is to get it written and published by the end of the year.

In short, I guess what I’m trying to say is… yes, there is enough material on this subject to sustain a blog like this. And, much more importantly, there’s enough interest to sustain it….

Interest from you.

And for that, I’m very, very grateful.

So I’d like to sincerely thank you for your interest and for your support, and of course for your visits. I really, really appreciate it all, and will never take it for granted.

And now

In case you didn’t know, my current interview guest Mark Humphries will be competing in TONIGHT’s episode of Celebrity Mastermind, which you can watch on SBS, if you’re here in Australia. So why not tune in, and get behind Mark?

I know I will be – good luck, Mark!