Saturday, 9 September 2017

A newsletter and instagram. Maybe.

Been thinking lately of ways I can connect with more readers outside of my blog and Twitter. It's difficult for nearly all writers as obviously not many of us have the power of a big publisher behind us to take care of the marketing. Plus if people don't know you've got a new book (or an older one for that matter), they're not going to be reading it, are they? But then there's the question of time. I need to write the books that I then edit, rewrite and polish before submitting them to publishers. I also need to take care of my 9-5, eat, sleep, relax, see my wife on occasion (ditto friends and family) and switch off - just like anyone else. And let's not forget the time spent online already researching potential markets or blogging and tweeting.

But like I say, we don't all have one of the big boys in terms of publishers to pimp our books so I'm thinking about sorting out a newsletter or maybe having a go at Instagram (which struck me as a strange idea for a tool for a writer when I read about it the other day but apparently I'm behind the times). I did have a Facebook page, but frankly, it was pointless. Each post reached an average of about twelve people even though a few hundred people liked my page, so unless you're paying for it or you have several thousand people who give a monkey's, it seems like a waste of time to me.

Like most writers, I'm more about the actual writing rather than any social side which is probably why it took me so long to start a blog and join Twitter. Odd thing, both are more fun than I expected. Once again, it's just a question of finding the time.

So, anyone up for seeing a newsletter from me every couple of months? Or seeing what sort of rubbish I can post on Instagram? Let me know here or on Twitter and I'll look into it in more detail.

 10/09/2017 - Edited To Add: I joined Instagram last night. You can see me here - My instagram

Saturday, 26 August 2017

DarkFuse closes

Well, this isn't a post I expected to write, but here it is. The publisher DarkFuse, home to a lot of great writers and books, has gone bankrupt and closed for business. Included in those books was my novella Mirror Of The Nameless which is obviously now unavailable. To say I'm gutted is an understatement. I had a lot of fun writing that book and it came with a relative ease I find hard to believe now. I also struggle to work out how the hell I managed to focus on nothing but the basic story of it without any outside bullshit, but that's just one of those things.

I have zero clue what will happen with Mirror in the long-term. Possibly nothing as it's hard enough to pitch new work to decent publishers let alone stuff that's already been published. I can always do it myself, of course, and maybe I will. At the moment, I just don't know.

If you've been paying attention, you'll know this isn't the first time I've experienced this and it's no less of a bummer now. One of those older books is still homeless and maybe Mirror will join it. Anyway, my little tale I wrote as HP Lovecraft meets Mad Max is done for now along with some quality work by a lot of authors I admire.

Friday, 25 August 2017

New blog look

Afternoon, all. It's the first nice day of this crazy English summer in feckin ages (also the first day for a long time that I'm in shorts, but we probably shouldn't talk about that) so what better time to have a spring clean. In August.

It's been a fair while since I've done anything to my blog in terms of its layout so I've had a refresh of background, colour and overall look. I'm also thinking about binning a load of old posts just for the sake of clarity and size. Anyway, let me know what you think of the new look - easy to read, clear, an improvement or not?

Enjoy ya weekend, people.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Cat charity theft

I've written about some really nasty bastards over the years - people and monsters (sometimes both) who either think they're misunderstood or don't give a toss about being the bad guy, who embrace it. Every time one of these characters comes to the page, I try to ground them in some degree of reality no matter how small. After all, there is nothing more frightening than reality. All you have do to see that is watch the news for about five seconds.

At the same time, there are the good guys: people who are put into that position simply because they don't want to get killed or maybe because they want to stop the bad guys from their moustache twirling, cackling, tying women to train tracks ways (depends on the story, obviously).

It's the same in the real world as it is in fiction. My first reaction upon hearing about a robbery at a local cat charity that resulted in all the food being stolen and leaving the charity with literally nothing to feed their cats was something along the lines of what kind of fucking bastard piece of shit would do that isn't there any honour among thieves and then I saw the comments on the charity's Facebook page: people offering anything they could from a few quid to more cash to dropping off donations of food to blitzing the charity's Amazon wishlist.

The good guys, in short.

So, if you want to be one of the good guys and you've got a bit of cash you can do without, you know what to do.

Cat charity JustGiving page


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Dropping the bomb

I'm in the middle of a load of edits for my current book (working title The Kindred) which is taking a while because I've, unusually for me, added to the original wordcount instead of reducing it. As it's gone from 75k to 117K, I'm also trying to knock it down while tidying it up and sorting my mistakes. The basic plot concerns the aftermath of a nuclear conflict which occurred in the mid 80s. It didn't really dawn on me until a fair way into the first draft that it could be connected to the world of Ascent in as much as nuclear war is featured in both books. For what it's worth, I've never seen them as connected. They share no characters, settings or situations other than the bomb dropping. Still, the connection has got me thinking about my fiction in a bigger picture sort of way.

All writers have themes and areas they return to whether they realise it or not while writing. I know what most of mine are and if someone pointed out one or two I haven't considered, that would be no surprise as a lot of the time, I don't think about what I'm writing. I just follow the characters. It's their story I'm telling. Saying all that, I'm well aware I've written more than once about the end of the world - or at least the potential of it. I really couldn't say why other than it gives me a lot of scope to play with and it can be quite fun to wipe everything clean and let those who survive see if they can keep going through whatever comes next. Ascent is definitely about the potential of the end of everything for the few characters trapped in Greenham Place (incidentally, the name of the office block was no accident), and not solely the end of the world. It's about the end of their world and everything they think they know. I suppose it's me saying don't take all the elements that comprise your life for granted because any one of them can be broken in two without warning. Because life is just that much fun.

On the other hand, The Kindred is more basic when it comes to an ending. I've stopped the twentieth century at some point in the middle of the 1980s and although ten years have passed by the time the story starts, it's still the mid 80s because there's nothing left in culture, politics or history to change and develop. The world I've made has ended but  - again supposing - that doesn't mean we end.

In any case, the two books aren't connected by plot or character but perhaps they take place in the same universe. I'll let you know when I know.


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

George Romero

You know what's funny? I honestly can't remember the first time I saw Night Of The Living Dead. Now, I have a pretty good memory for fairly useless stuff like this and you'd think, given it's the greatest film ever made, I'd know to the minute when I first encountered the film. After all, I know I saw Dawn Of The Dead and Day Of The Dead at some point in the mid 90s during a late night showing on BBC2 (and the chances were Dawn was still missing the scene during which Peter shoots the two zombie kids as the BBFC cut that after the school shooting in Dunblane - an act I continue to find staggeringly pointless). I know I was blown away by the levels of violence in both films and the the almost cartoon-like garish colour of the blood in Dawn. I know I found Stephen getting shot in the arm while hiding on top of the lift to be more disturbing than the zombies chowing down, and I know I had to wait a while before getting the uncut versions of both films on dvd.

But, Night? That memory just isn't there.

Maybe it doesn't matter in the end. I know the film inside out and I know what it means to me as a horror fan, as a writer and as a man. And all that comes down to George Romero.

It's easy, all these years later, to overlook or simply forget what Romero and his colleagues did when it came to making Night. Changing horror is one thing; changing cinema is something else. Night managed both which is no mean feat for a low-budget shocker which has been in the public domain for decades. Of course, Romero wasn't just responsible for Night. The Crazies may well be the most cynical film ever made while Martin is up there as one of the grubbiest Much as I love most of his work, it will always be Night for me. They'll always be coming to get you, Barbra. If you burn them, they'll go up easy. And there'll always be a howl of impotent rage at the sheer ugly unfairness of the ending.

It will always be Night for me. And for that, I thank George Romero from the bottom of my undead heart.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Being your own admin department

I finished the second draft of my current book two weeks ago (working title: The Kindred) and have been sorting out a few odds and sods since then. I sometimes get the impression people think writing is simply just a case of writing a book, finishing it and sending it straight off to publishers before the money comes rolling in (hahahaha) and while that might be the case for some of the big names, it definitely isn't for writers like me. For starters, my first drafts are always terrible. Seconds aren't perfect, either, so it would be a waste of everyone's time if I subbed a book that wasn't as close to perfect as I can get. Outside that, there's a lot of what I think of as the business/practical side of writing: researching publishers, agents and markets; choosing the right place to send a sample or a query; getting everything ready and then, as in the case of one night last week, getting an auto reply to say they were now closed. Then writers need to keep track of what they've sent to who and chase if it's required and obviously if that's part of the company's policy on submission - the majority are now a no reply at all means no.

This all takes time and as the writer's life is better spent writing than being their own admin department, it's a case of needs must. Unless a writer is content to write purely for themselves or a select handful of people they can give a copy of their book to, all this practical stuff has to be done. And believe me, it's a drag which is why I try to time it for when I'm between projects rather than in the middle of a book. As the market for horror isn't large (and seems to be shrinking by the year), it's also disheartening. But like I said, it has to be done. Publishers and agents don't go looking for writers; they have enough work to do and enough queries and samples coming their way. All the writer can do, especially if they write in a genre that has a loyal but small audience, is keep looking for the markets to send their work.

And then return to their tale of cannibals in a post-nuclear war alternative history Britain.