The year so far

We’re over half way through 2017, so I thought I’d do a small run through of what’s been going on publishing-wise for me so far.

supernatural tales 34

The year began well with the inclusion of my short story, Castle Ruins, in Supernatural Tales 34 (30 January 2017)

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Then, on 1st March, and after it was held for over a year by a publisher before they finally decided to reject it, I self published the fast moving space opera, The Frihet Rebellion (1 March 2017).

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Staying with self publishing, I released The Risen Dead (13 April 2017), the first in The Givers Of Life series of linked novellas, and my first foray into the world of zombies.

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In June, The Society Of Misfit Stories published my lengthy short story, Emily In The Wall (7 June 2017), as a standalone publication. I knew this would be a difficult story to place, but The Society Of Misfit Stories is the perfect home for it.

Best of British Science Fiction 2016 cover

This month, my short story, The Lightship, is included in the anthology Best of British Science Fiction 2016 (10 July 2017), something of which I am very proud. It’s a fantastic collection of science fiction short stories and I highly recommend it to any sci fi fan.

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Not yet published, although available for pre-order on Amazon, is my novel, Eyes of the Raven (21 August 2017), published by World Castle Publishing. This is a story of murder and witchcraft, and introduces my current favourite character, Detective Chief Inspector Emily Sanders. I think there’s a very good chance you will hear more of Emily Sanders in the future.

Wonder why I’ve used the name “Emily” twice already this year? I think I just like it!

Also accepted for publication, but with no release date yet, are a horror novel, The Demon Guardian, and a science fiction short story, Signal. I’ll let you know more the moment I’m able to.

In terms of published work, it’s been a good year for me so far (we’ll ignore everything else going on in my life and in the world for the moment). But now, with only two short stories out looking for a home, I need to write more… a lot more… got to keep the dream going!

Thank you for reading.

Family collaborations

A quick look through my published works will show you that, although I usually write things on my own, occasionally there have been collaborations with certain family members. I think it’s probably important to point out, for clarity, that these were not face-to-face collaborations, but rather my taking (with their permission) old stories they had written and rewriting/reworking them to a lesser or greater degree.

I enjoyed doing these immensely, partly, I suspect, because the basic stories were already written and I could concentrate on the writing. No hold-ups while I work out the next direction the plot is going to take. So, let’s take a look at these “collaborations” and see who wrote the original stories.

Colin P Davies

Colin is my older brother (the middle of three of us) and is a successful science fiction writer with published work in such august publications as Asimov’s Science Fiction (where he’s almost a regular!) and The Mammoth Book Of Best New SF #18. You can visit his website here – Colin P Davies. I feel his work is of a more serious and literary style than my own (although not devoid of humour). If I had to choose, I’d say he’s a better “writer” than me, but I hope I can match him on the “storytelling”, which I feel is my strong point. Anyway, all my envy aside… 🙂 way back when we were both young, and we were both writing (in long hand), He wrote two stories in particular that stuck with me. Many years later, I asked him if I could take these stories and rewrite them. Thankfully he said yes, and here are the results.

The Lion On Androcles (2013)

The Lion On Androcles copy

Not only is the original story by Colin, but the cover artwork is too – an old oil painting of his that I came across in my dad’s. I just felt it fitted the story. Here’s the blurb!

Yso Nakema (The Lion), famed and feared Earth agent, is on Androcles, an old colony world now ruled by the alien Kerexz. His mission is unknown, even to himself. He will learn of it as he meets his contacts on his journey. It’s a tried and trusted mission technique, but this time things are going wrong. Unexpected obstacles rise in his way, the enemy seem to be everywhere they shouldn’t be, he fails to make contacts and, worst of all, he finds himself getting involved with the problems of people he meets on the way.

With aliens, space cruisers, desert nomads, pirates and much more, The Lion On Androcles is a must-read Science Fiction Adventure.

The Evil Incantation (2014)

The Evil Incantation

The Evil Incantation

This time the cover is by the amazingly talented artist and photographer, Steve Upham. Here’s the blurb:

Ex-Special Forces soldier Tim Galton and History Professor Alexander Hall are adventurers and paranormal investigators. But they don’t just investigate haunted houses, they search out the darkest, most dangerous of creatures and do battle. Now they’re in Romania, facing a deadly alliance between Satanists and Vampires and heading inexorably towards an encounter with the most evil creature they’ve ever faced, deep in Transylvania.

The two main characters, Tim Galton and Professor Hall (or at least, my version of them) went on to feature in my novel The Village Witch (2015). If you’re interested, you can read more about how the characters in the two stories are linked, or not linked, depending on your point of view with alternate realities, in my blog post How The Village Witch and The Evil Incantation (do not) link.

W A E Davies

William Anthony Elwyn Davies is my dad. I think it’s fair to say that both Colin and myself get our writing obsession from him. Although he was never published, he was writing stories from an early age. The earliest stories I’ve had access to date from 1949, when he would have been 18/19 years old. I have no doubt he was writing before then, but these are the earliest ones that survive – in his rather scrawling handwriting, gathered together in home-made books.

With his permission, I took these early stories (ranging from 1949 to 1955) and reworked them. This was great fun, particularly with the settings that were current to him when writing, but historical to me. I did some research, looked up some of the incidental details that would have meant nothing to my dad at the time, but were fascinating to me, and even added some historical touches myself that fitted the dates of the stories. It was also fun to step out of my usual comfort zone of horror or science fiction, and work on straight detective, adventure and thriller stories. The result was The Noose Is Waiting And Other Stories (2013) – unfortunately this has no page of its own on my site (something I need to rectify) but can be seen in the list of C&N Publications books.

The Noose Is Waiting

The cover is by my son, Jonathan Davies (this was definitely a family affair!).

Here’s the blurb:

Murder, spies, lost cities, blackmail and ghostly monks. All can be found inside these pages. Originally written between 1949 and 1955 by W A E Davies, revised and rewritten in 2013 by his son, Neil Davies. Locations and time period remain unchanged.

The Noose Is Waiting
The Hidden City Of Ffan Su
Dearest Heart
Blackmail For Breakfast
The Night Of Screaming Terror

Five tales of crime, adventure and horror await…

Best of all, my dad is still writing! Although he took a break for a long time, around 2000 he decided to sit down and have a go at writing a novel. The result was the well written and exciting wartime thriller, which, in 2013, he allowed me to publish for him under the C&N Publications banner. The book is called The Ring Of Treachery (2013).

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You can blame me for the cover! Here’s the blurb:

Hanson and Hopkins, Private Investigators, because even during wartime infidelity and divorce are good business. Murder isn’t their usual line, but when one of their clients is killed they feel obliged to investigate. They never expected it to lead them into a world of Nazi sympathizers, spies and Hitler’s plans to invade England!

My dad is now 87 and, currently, not in the best of health. Hopefully he will recover and one of the things he might get back to is his writing. Very recently, before his current illness, he showed me a short science fiction story he had written that, he said, could also be the start of a novel if there was enough mileage in the idea. It was really very good (and I’m not saying that just because he’s my dad). I encouraged him to go with the novel idea. I believe it would make a great novel, and I hope he decides to write it.

Cathy Davies

I couldn’t talk about collaborations with family members without mentioning my wife, Cathy (who you can find on Facebook and on her own blog site. Although she’s not a writer as such (she used to write poetry a long time ago, but so far won’t let me publish any of it!) she is a fountain of ideas and criticism. Many stories have begun with ideas thrown out in our occasional story brainstorming sessions, quite often from her (strange!) dreams. And, although it can be hard to take at times, many stories have benefited from her criticisms. Admittedly, the direction I take the ideas are often not to Cathy’s liking, but the story still sprung from her original thought. If you look through my short story collections, you will find many stories that come from “an idea by Cathy Davies”. And, in particular, the short book The Ant Man (2013).

The Ant Man

Digman Marley works for Antman Exterminators. He used to work at the old chemical factory on the hill, before it went out of business. His life is hard, dull and predictable. But something is happening up at the old factory, and the ants he’s called to exterminate are acting strangely, and, although he doesn’t know it, this week things are going to change forever for Digman Marley.

The Short Story ‘The Ant Man’ is Neil Davies’s tribute to both the Black & White B-Movies he still enjoys watching and the pulp fiction he still enjoys reading. He just hopes he’s done it (and them) justice.

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A short story collection featuring 14 tales of dark imagination.

The Midnight Hour
Argument
Ribbons Of Blood
The Shadow
When The Fires Die
Photographs
The Perfect Marriage
Road Rage
Virgin Flesh
Death By Popcorn
Frozen Food
Away With The Fairies
Bonding
The Extreme Makeover Of Helen Watson

 

Interludes

Interludes (paperback/ebook)

11 more tales of dark imagination and horror, with “holiday interludes” from the seasons of Halloween and Christmas.

The Box
The Pathological Good Samaritan
Holiday Interlude #1 – Halloween: Tradition
The Sarcophagus (with Rhianne Davies)
Holiday Interlude #2 – Christmas: A Christmas Pilgrim
Conversation
The Killing Tree
Holiday Interlude #3 – Halloween: Young At Heart
The Cleansing
Holiday Interlude #4 – Christmas: Two Years To The Day
The Ward On The Hill

Cathy also used to write her own website, the popular Cathy’s Weightloss Diary. Although the site no longer exists, pages from it are being compiled in a series of books, the first of which is available from, once again, our own family publishing concern, C&N Publications.

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Rhianne Davies

Rhianne is my daughter. She only writes occasionally, but it’s good when she does. We collaborated on one story so far, The Sarcophagus, (my only face-to-face collaboration) which you can find in my collection Interludes. There is one other story, set in Rhianne’s own fantasy world, where most of her stories take place, but she won’t allow it to be published just yet. Hopefully one day…

I am grateful for having such a talented and generous family, and working on all the above stories was great fun. It’s just a shame I’ve used up all the available material… if there was more, I would be jumping at the chance to rewrite and rework it.

If you read any of the above books, I hope you enjoy them and appreciate that they are not my work alone. I had a lot of help 🙂

 

Apathy Bites

Apathy Bites

Apathy Bites is my first solo album (EP strictly speaking as it’s short) for a long long time. And it’s the first to be distributed digitally to iTunes, Spotify and others. My other albums you will only find on cheap cassette tapes in my attic (most of them have been converted to mp3 files on my computer now, to keep them safe before the cassette tapes disintegrate altogether!) The recording quality on those is awful.

Below is separated into two sections: History deals with my recording history up to the present day, Current deals with the new EP only. You may read or skip as you choose.

HISTORY

I’ve been writing and recording music since way back in 1975, when I was 15/16 years old. The only way I could record then was on cheap cassette recorders, and the only way to overdub was to play the recording on one cassette player, and play along with it while a second cassette player recorded the result. There could be no mixing afterwards. You could keep repeating this process for multi overdubs, but each time the quality got worse. And then there were the times when one of the players (or one of the tapes) went faulty and was muffled or, even worse, wobbled! The end results were not good.

In terms of instruments, I had my own electric guitar and amp, and my brother, Colin, had a jumbo acoustic guitar, which I was allowed to borrow. The electric guitar also doubled as the bass. I had no drums, but chair cushions hit with (usually) bamboo sticks did the job for that early on. Sometimes I could add keyboards, depending on what my dad had decided to buy for the house. At various times I had access to an upright piano and an electronic organ. Whatever was there, I would use. Vocals? Just sang directly into the cassette player while the backing track played on another cassette player. You could say it was a basic setup!

Things did improve, after time. Through friends and band members (once I started playing in local bands around 1977) I had occasional use of various pedals for the guitar, a drum machine, an echo machine and, the biggest luxury, a reel-to-reel tape recorder that had a proper overdub facility (and also double-time to play with and speed some stuff up – although it did change the pitch as well, not like the facilities available today). Generally speaking, I would only have each item for a short length of time, so it usually meant some frantic recording making use of the items, before they had to go back. Much later on, I bought myself a guitar amp with built-in double cassette recorders and overdub facility. Also later on, my brother, Philip, bought a really decent Sony drum machine which he allowed me to borrow. He also bought a dedicated music computer with accompanying keyboard, which I also had use of. Even better, the keyboard and drum machine could sync. My recordings became a lot better around this time (and some of the results are actually up on soundclick, just for fun). At some point I got my first computer and programmed myself a drum machine in Atari BASIC. Eventually I did buy proper drum machine software.

From 1975 through to 1989, I recorded several cassette tapes worth of music each year. That’s a lot of music. And while the recording quality was not great, some of the songs were ok, I think. I stopped writing and recording for a few years then, while things like jobs and real life got in the way (after a combination of unemployment, short temporary work and, eventually, university as a “mature” student). In 1990 I met my future wife, Cathy, and, inspired by her, wrote some more music and recorded the tape simply entitled, Cathy, in 1994. Then I stopped writing and recording again, while married life and kids took priority.

Around 2000 I discovered the website mp3.com – and back then it was a place anyone could upload music to. I also discovered digital recording and sampling, resulting in the album Age (2000), my first digital and CD album (mp3.com made the CDs back then too). It is completely composed using public domain samples. It’s “interesting” now, but it’s not really me. I did a second album with mp3.com, called New Dawn (2001), where I returned to playing real instruments, and singing. Then I stopped, again!

It took the intervention of my son (around 2008/2009), who, by then, was himself playing guitar and/or drums in local and school bands, to bring me out of my self-imposed musical retirement. Looking forward to his 18th birthday (which would coincide with my 50th) he wanted to record an album with me and organise a one-off gig. So was born The 1850 Project, and we haven’t stopped since, with our second album, The Family, released in 2012 (we just take long gaps between things). You’ll find our albums on iTunes, Amazon and all the usual places.

CURRENT

Finally, this current solo EP. The songs are all written by me, and are mostly old songs, resurrected from those cassette tapes, rewritten a little, and  re-recorded in our “home studio” (or Jonathan’s bedroom as it’s usually known). The title song, Apathy Bites, is a newly written song, and this is its first recording. Here’s the track listing:

  1. Waiting for delivery (Originally recorded for the tape Summer Illusion – 1987)
    Vocals, lead guitar, drum programming – Neil Davies
    Rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards – Jonathan Davies
  2. Balanced On The Edge (Originally recorded for the tape Schoolies short ‘n’ sweet – 1980)
    Vocals, guitars, bass, drum programming – Neil Davies
    Vocals – Jonathan Davies
  3. As You Are (Originally recorded for the tape Innocence under the slightly different title of As You Do – 1979)
    Vocals, drum programming – Neil Davies
    Guitars, bass – Jonathan Davies
  4. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind (Originally recorded for the tape Legend – 1987)
    Vocals, guitars, bass, drum programming – Neil Davies
  5. All The Days Were Summer (Originally recorded for the tape Two Weeks In The Past – 1987)
    Lead Vocals, lead guitar, drum programming – Neil Davies
    Backing vocals, rhythm guitar, bass – Jonathan Davies
  6. Apathy Bites (2017)
    Lead vocals, guitars, bass, drum programming – Neil Davies
    Backing vocals – Jonathan Davies

If you decide to listen to it, I hope you enjoy it and, perhaps, even purchase it? I can hope. 🙂 Click the link below

Apathy Bites on iTunes

The Givers Of Life

The Givers Of Life

Slightly late (as usual) the novella, The Risen Dead, has been added to the bibliography and its own page is live.

With The Risen Dead, a new series of linked novellas is launched under the overall heading of The Givers Of Life. To quote from the blurb:

When the end came for most of humanity, it was sudden, violent and unexpected. In the aftermath, the dead began to rise, reanimated by someone, or something, they knew only as The Givers Of Life. Their memories of life were gone, their identities erased. They were reborn for one reason only, to kill all survivors.

I describe them as a series of linked novellas because, although they will be set in the same apocalyptic world, with some returning characters and criss-crossing of storylines, they will not be direct sequels to each other.

The exact number of novellas in the series is currently fluid. However, this is not an open-ended series, there will be a definite conclusion. If humanity is to survive, The Givers Of Life must be unmasked, and the dead sent back to their graves!

Before I finish, a brief note about the cover.

As you may have noticed from many of my previous books, my favourite and preferred cover artist is the very talented artist and photographer, Steve Upham. Unfortunately, his current workload meant he was not available for this book and so, for better or worse, I decided to paint my own cover! The painting was done in acrylics, with the lettering added later via photoshop. It may not be as stunning as a Steve Upham original, but I hope you will feel, as I do, that it is suitable for the novella. No decision has yet been made as to whether the other novellas in the series will have covers painted by myself. This is my first painted cover and I need to wait and see if there’s any reaction (good or bad), and whether my confidence in attempting cover art can grow.

If you should choose to read the book, I hope you enjoy it and, perhaps, you might post a review on Amazon.

Any comments on anything covered in this post, just add them below.

Thank you for reading.

Promotions and widening the field

Promotions and widening the field

Some of you may have already seen posts on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere saying that my latest book, The Frihet Rebellion, is currently FREE for the kindle on Amazon. I set the promotion to coincide with my birthday (yesterday, 29th March) and to last until the end of March (tomorrow). So there is (hopefully) little excuse not to download the book, even if you don’t intend to immediately read it. Hopefully, with it sitting on your kindle, you may be tempted at some point to give it a try. I hope so. That’s my devious plan anyway 🙂

If you do take advantage of this promotion, and you actually read the book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. Reviews are important and impact who else might buy the book in the future. In other words, reviews can mean future income for the writer (me) as well as a wider readership. Even if you don’t like the book, review it! I’d rather have honest bad reviews than none. I like honesty in reviews (and elsewhere for that matter).

On the subject of wider readership, those of you who are writers, and have self published through Amazon, will know about KDP and how, in order to run something like this free promotion, you need to be exclusively tied to Amazon. That’s ok, for a short time, and as a way of running something like this promotion. But I haven’t signed up for automatic renewal, because, once this current session of KDP runs out, towards the end of May, I intend to publish The Frihet Rebellion on Smashwords as well.

The advantage of going with Smashwords is that, not only will my book still be available from Amazon, but it will also become available in various other formats (including epub, pdf etc.) and distributed to sites such as Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and many more, with new ones being added quite regularly. This opens up a huge potential audience for my book, way beyond just Amazon.

At the end of the day, I would like my stories to be read by as many people as possible and, I hope, enjoyed by the majority of them. It’s always an amazing feeling to get good feedback from a reader, either through a review or personally, via email or messaging. It’s wonderful to know your work is appreciated and enjoyed by others. I write because I have stories I want to tell, but it’s an extra boost and added incentive to know there are others following those stories.

So, that’s where we are at the moment. The Frihet Rebellion is free on the kindle for today and tomorrow and, in June, anyone who wants to read it on another ebook reader or in a format other than mobi (kindle), will be able to do so via Smashwords.

Thank you for reading.

Coincidence?

Can this really be a coincidence, or is my brain doing things behind my back far cleverer than it usually does out front (if you see what I mean)? Let me explain.

I have already told in a previous post (The story behind The Frihet Rebellion) how my latest novel is based on a story I originally wrote way back in 1975. In that original, the rebellious planet was called Thalas. When I came to rewrite it, I felt that name was far too close to Doctor Who (I was a fan back then, after all – still am) and needed changing. Playing “name the planet” in my head, throwing largely nonsense words and sounds around, I came up with the name Frihet. As far as I was aware, it was a word I just made up because it sounded right.

Jump forward to publication, and I get a couple of people asking me why I chose to use a Swedish word in the title. So, a quick Google shows that ‘frihet’ is, indeed, a Swedish word, and that it translates as ‘freedom’!

As far as I’m aware, I have never heard the word before, and I certainly don’t speak Swedish, so how did I just come up with it when looking for a planet name? Especially when it turns out to be just about perfect?

I have to presume that, somewhere in my subconscious, I was aware of this word… although I’ve no idea where from. Otherwise, it’s an amazing coincidence, which is also possible but, I feel, less likely. Either way, no one was more surprised than me that my rebellious, freedom-fighting world was named after the Swedish word for freedom. I can only presume that the early colonists were Swedish in origin. At least that explanation makes sense!

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The story behind The Frihet Rebellion

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The Frihet Rebellion is my first book release of 2017 (and the first for over a year!). The story behind it, however, starts a long time ago, but still in this galaxy (sorry).

Way back in 1975 (when I was just 16) I wrote a short book called Space Revolution. A simple story of a nasty Earth government, a heroic alien and human aboard a superior alien craft, and a distant, rebellious princess. This was two years before the release of Star Wars, so stop pointing those fingers. Its real influence was comic books, the Martian and Venus tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs, pulp sci fi in general and the imagination of a 16 year old boy (Sexy teenage princess? Sure, why not?).

Paper was cut down to size and I typed the story out (on a ribbon rapidly losing ink). My older brother Colin (who had more experience of this and was – and is – much more of a perfectionist than me) agreed to glue the book together, trim the pages to a neat edge AND produce an amazing wrap-around cover, created with pen and poster paints. Here’s the result (I still have it, and it still holds together perfectly).

space-revolution

In 2015 I decided to resurrect Space Revolution and rewrite it, start to finish. The basic story elements remained, but characters and incidents were fleshed out and changes made to fit with my older and, possibly, more mature outlook. The result was The Frihet Rebellion which, I hope, retains the excitement, fast movement and pulp nature of the original.

When it came to the cover design, I knew I had to have that ship from the original cover. It just conjured the flavour of the story so well. So, with a little photoshopping, I added a fresh new star field to the background, the new title and there it was – I think, the perfect cover for The Frihet Rebellion.

As with everything I write, I am less concerned with being seen as a “good writer” and more with being a “good storyteller”. This story has been with me a long time. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing, and rewriting, it.

The ebook is currently available for pre-order and will be released on 1st March 2017. The paperback is currently going through review and will also be available then, if not before.

You can pre-order on Amazon now.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com