2016 – Not The Best Of Years

So, 2106 is coming to an end – and good riddance too. It has not been a great year for all sorts of reasons. For a start, we lost a lot of great performers across the arts – people like Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Greg Lake, Prince and too many others. Hollywood continues to grind out the retreads and remakes (although Deadpool was good). In politics we had the twin disasters of Brexit and Donald Trump. Far too many wars and acts of terrorism continue to plague the world in general. Religion and political ideology continue to be used as justification for hate, prejudice and bigotry. I could go on (really, I could!), but enough is enough.

Not everything was bad. There was some great music released (including albums from Dream Theater, Babymetal, Ana Popovic, Roxette, The Monkeys, Epica and Green Day), small publishers continued to release the books that the traditional publishers are too afraid to, there were a few good tv shows starting or continuing (The Good Place, No Tomorrow, People Of Earth, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Crazyhead, Frequency, Sweet Vicious, Lucifer) among the almost overwhelming mass of mediocre and just plain bad, and my wife finally dumped her too stressful job for an altogether pleasanter one.

But the main reason for this blog is to look at what I’ve been up to this year, in terms of writing anyway.

I have had no books published in 2016. This is a depressing but true statistic. However, this does not mean I’ve been doing nothing.

My short stories Assassin On The Seventy-Fourth Floor (Crimson Streets), The Light Ship (Electric Spec) and Young At Heart (reprint in Red Fez) made an appearance, and two more (Castle Ruins and The Great Prophecy) have been accepted but not yet released. I also had a story, Locusts – The Return, included in a special tribute book for Guy N Smith (Hell Of A Guy) which is not on general sale.¬†Permission has been given for the story to appear elsewhere, but I haven’t decided whether I want to do that just yet.

I wrote a novelette (Vampire Worms), a novel (Eyes Of The Raven) and am currently finishing off the final draft of another novel that still doesn’t have a title! And as soon as this draft is done, I’m finally starting on the third and final novel in The Szuiltan Trilogy, The Offspring.

In terms of works that are out there waiting for responses, I have three short stories, a novelette, a novella, and two novels. This is not a lot compared to some writers, but it’s pretty good for me.

The other thing I’ve done in writing is sign up (again) to Wattpad, and this time I’m determined to make use of it. There are already several short stories, the whole of The Ant Man, and samples of currently unpublished work up there. My main project on it is to, gradually, put the whole of my science fiction thriller novel A World Of Assassins on there. Everything is free to read, and it seems a good place to spread the word ūüôā

As far as my other creative outlets are concerned…

The 1850 Project (the collaboration between my son and me) is far from dead, it’s just resting. Mainly because our home studio (or Jonathan’s bedroom as it’s sometimes known) is in complete disarray, and we can’t afford the studio time we would need in our regular place (Whitby Studios) or anywhere else at the moment.

Art. It’s a very long time since I attempted any serious drawing or painting, but my wife was determined to get me to paint something for her. It’s taken her a long time, but she finally won, and I have taken up the brush and the acrylics again, after many years, to produce the painting you see below, which she seems to like (thankfully). I suspect that, now that I’ve started, I will probably continue in 2017. It was fun and quite relaxing to do.

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That’s about it. I won’t be sorry to see 2016 go, and can only hope that 2017 will be a better year for all of us. The one thing I can promise is that I’ll continue to write, successfully or otherwise. I hope some of you¬†will continue to read, too.

Thank you for reading.

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Not published does not equal not writing

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It’s been a short while since I had anything new published (seems like forever, but in reality only since November 2nd 2015, when The Last Harpy was published by Omnium Gatherum), but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything finished and waiting, the key word being “waiting”.

I currently have 7 pieces of work out there, looking for either a publisher or an agent (depends on how I was feeling on any particular day). And I know that’s nothing compared to many other writers.

Among the longer pieces, I have…

A 51,500 word pulp science fiction novel that’s been sitting with the same publisher for over a year, but they keep assuring me it’s on the pile.

A 29,600 word zombie apocalypse-type horror novella, first of a series, looking for a publisher (or with a possibility of being self published).

A 12,400 word horror novelette out doing the rounds.

A 56,900 word occult-tinged murder novel, not long finished and freshly out looking for interest.

And I’m also 41,000 words into a new horror novel, and the remaining is all planned out.¬†I should have this one ready for the first edit before too long.

So, I’ve been busy and, hopefully soon, I’ll have some new published work out there to share with you. Until then, please be patient. I promise there’s a lot more yet to come.

Thank you for reading.

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The Risen Dead

Tidying up The Risen Dead, a novella, the first in a series called The Givers Of Life.¬†At the moment, with the sad demise of Screaming Dreams (who it was placed with), I have no publisher and am having difficulty finding one willing to take on a series of zombie-based novellas. Therefore (and with my children’s permission… read old blogs to find the relevance of that!) I may consider self publishing it.
 
No absolute final decision yet, and I am still looking at publishers (anyone know any zombie and series friendly ones out there?).
 
I thought I’d take this unexpected and unfortunate opportunity to go over the novella one final time… it was originally finished over a year ago, and I haven’t read it since then. Fresh eyes will always find things to change.
 
The novella does stand on its own, but I really wanted to go further into its world, which is why I plan to do a series. And there are some questions deliberately left unanswered, or at least vague. Lots more to write on this.
 
And if you don’t like zombies? Give it a try anyway, when it comes out from whatever source. I hope I’m bringing a slightly different slant on the genre, rather than retreading the same old themes, but ultimately you, the reader, will decide that.
 
Thank you.

Two Martial Arts Movies

This may not be about writing, but it is about entertainment.

Disclaimer – I do not claim to know martial arts. However, I do claim to have watched a LOT of martial arts movies, from Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest, the lowest budget Hong Kong kung fu movies through to Hollywood blockbusters. I therefore feel it’s ok for me to comment on the fight scenes in the following two recently watched films.

Kill ‘Em All

Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/asKEqfuK8mE

My problem is this. The film goes to some lengths at the beginning to show these killers from different places, with different backgrounds and, in theory, different styles of fighting. However, when they actually fight, apart from the most superficial of differences, they all fight in exactly the same way. The choreography is not unique for these people with styles that are meant to be so different from each other. Mind you, at least the fight scenes are shot in a  way that allow you to see, and enjoy, the moves. Unlike my next film.

Extraction

Watch the trailer here: https://youtu.be/ZcN7hUKFgYU

This is one of those movies that, in order to try and generate excitement in the fight scenes, insists on shaky camera work and very fast cutting. The end result is that you don’t get to see much of the actual fighting, which I find very frustrating. Especially as they have Gina Carano in the cast. What’s the point of having someone who is more than capable of performing the fight choreography, and then cut it in such a way that it could have been any actor, physically capable or not? Total waste of talent.

Both of the above were films I had some hopes for, and both ended up being disappointing (and not just because of the fight scene issues described above). It was especially disappointing to watch Bruce Willis sleepwalk and mumble his way through his scenes in Extraction. And the criminal underuse of Gina Carano.

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Celebrate Spring With The Village Witch

Omnium Gatherum, publishers of Hard Winter:The Novel, The Village Witch and The Last Harpy, have launched a contest to win some goodies for The Village Witch – including ebook and paperback copies. Entering is as simple as sharing the good news.

Take a look at it here… and good luck!
Celebrate Spring with The Village Witch

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Still writing… slowly

Long time since my last blog post I think.

Despite the lack of contact, I am still writing, albeit very slowly. My main WIP is fighting me every step of the way, and my complete mastery of procrastination isn’t helping. But I know if I keep working at it, and accept that a lot of what I’ve written might need to be thrown away and the plot rethought, I will reach the breakthrough it needs.

It’s not the first time a book has proved difficult. In fact, most of my books hit that wall at some point – The Village Witch (published last year by Omnium Gatherum) hit the wall numerous times during its creation. Plot lines changed, characters came and went, thousands of words were written, dumped and then rewritten. It’s all par for the course. The one exception was Hard Winter: The Novel (also from Omnium Gatherum) – that one just flowed. But it’s unusual for it to be that easy.

I still write the occasional short story, because it’s nice to see something completed in a relatively short time. I’ve about 10 or 11 out at the moment, waiting for acceptance or rejection (mostly rejection based on experience) and I keep an eye on upcoming themed anthologies in case one just catches my interest. But I can’t deny that my main focus is on the longer pieces of fiction – novellas and novels. That’s where I get the chance to develop characters and more complex storylines. It’s the type of writing I enjoy the most.

In a potentially soul destroying decision, I’ve engaged the services of my son and his English Literature degree to rip my writing apart – which is something he takes an inordinate amount of pleasure in doing. The hope is it will improve my overall writing, if my ego allows me to survive it! Through working with the excellent editing skills of Omnium Gatherum’s Kate Jonez, I have become completely convinced in the usefulness of having someone who knows what they’re talking about look at my¬†writing. A good editor, and I’ve been mostly fortunate, can really help improve the writing and the flow of a story (I’ll ignore the bad ones who think editing means rewriting – they can crawl away and die). Both my wife and my son are very good at improving the readability of a story, finding those lines that are clumsy or just suck! But my son currently has the time, and can bring the skills he picked up doing his degree to the task. If nothing else, it should be interesting.

If you’ve liked some of the books¬†I’ve written so far, stick with me. More are¬†on the way. It just takes time…

Late for the release party

Well, that didn’t work out right did it? So much for promising to let you know when The Last Harpy was released. Posted everywhere but here, on my own blog!

In case you didn’t know, my short story The Last Harpy was released a short time ago by the wonderful people at Omnium Gatherum. It’s historical, it’s horrific, it was fun to write and, I hope, fun to read.

Sorry to arrive so late for the release party… typical!

The Last Harpy at Amazon

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